Publication offers new insights into brain development
Prominent HBP researchers, in an international collaboration with other colleagues, have just published a paper that gives new insights into how certain regions of the brain develop over time. The paper, entitled ‘Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing', appears in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science. Interdisciplinary researchers from Stanford University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Heinrich-Heine University and RWTH Aachen University investigated how cortical tissue changes in relation to brain function and behavior from childhood to adulthood. The researchers used both functional and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging in 22 children and 25 adults to examine anatomical changes in regions of the brain involved in the recognition of faces compared to those involved in the recognition of places, and found that development was significantly different between the two regions. Regions selective for facial recognition were dominated by microstructural proliferation, which correlated with increases in selectivity for faces, together with improvements in recognizing faces. Additional investigation using cytoarchitectonic measurements confirmed significant differences in brain tissue properties between regions involved in face or place recognition. The data suggest a new mechanism for the development of brain function and behavior from the proliferation of cortical tissue rather than mere removal of underused axons, i.e. ‘pruning'. The research not only represents a comprehensive way of analyzing the developmental situation (i.e. through modelling as well as functional and anatomical measurements), but also shows an excellent example of transatlantic collaboration.
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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.
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