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New opinion article proposes an approach linking brain organisation stages from genes to consciousness

A new opinion article by Jean-Pierre Changeux in Trends in Cognitive Sciences presents a new approach to link the stages of brain organisation from genes to consciousness.

In the article, entitled ‘Climbing brain levels of organisation from genes to consciousness', Prof. Changeux proposes and approach that offers insights into the long-distance connection between genes and cognitive functions, including the relationship between brain development and sociocultural environment. The strategy links the stages of brain organisation at four structural levels: genes; transcription factors (TF)-gene networks; synaptic epigenesist; and, long-range connectivity.

There are several international programs that aim to our advance understanding of the human brain using different approaches, but some serious challenges still remain. One of these is that much of the data generated do not allude to the molecular level, an essential aspect for drug design. In addition, modelling studies rarely take into account evolutionary and developmental dynamics of brain organisation, and microprocessor models may not fully represent synaptic and neuronal dynamics. The various concepts and data from disparate brain disciplines therefore need to be integrated into a unified framework of brain biology and development.

Prof. Changeux puts forward a framework to connect these levels via interlevel bridging processes that operate both top-down and bottom-up, and also considers the different timescales apparent during the brain's development. The strategy proposed could help integrate these discrete brain disciplines and the wealth of data generated, and may pave the way towards new IT modelling approaches that integrate multiple timescale dynamics. As well as insights into the relationships between genes and functions, the strategy also proposes how these relationships might be altered in brain disorders. Prof. Changeux hopes that the proposed framework may help to unify the varied multidisciplinary approaches aimed at understanding the human brain.

The full text of the paper is available on the Trends in Cognitive Sciences website.

What People are Saying

  • Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. This is our opportunity.

    Prof. Karlheinz Meier, University of Heidelberg,
    Co-leader of the Neuromorphic Computing Subproject

  • The Human Brain is the most complex system that we know of. We would like to develop some kind of ‘google' brain where we can zoom in and out, see it from different perspectives and understand how brain structure and function is related. The ultimate aim of the Human Brain Project is to understand the human brain. This is only possible when we understand the structural organization of the human brain.

    Prof. Katrin Amunts, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine,
    Forschungszentrum Jülich

  • The Human Brain Project will become a major driver of ICT in Europe.

    Prof. Thomas Lippert, Institute for Advanced Simulation, Jülich Supercomputing Centre,
    leader of the High Peformance Computing subproject