The human brain has been described as the most complex system in the universe by some scientists, and although we can’t be sure if this is an anthropomorphic view of reality, the truth is that it continues to amaze us. For most humans, it is an imaginative challenge to understand the world in four dimensions. In case you are one of those that, how would you understand a world with five, six or more? Difficult? A new investigation has blown the bill in this direction. An international team of researchers reveals in an article published Monday on 12 June, 2017.
Well you should know that in your brain there are structures that work up to eleven dimensions, according to a study published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. The work is the result of the Blue Brain Project, dedicated to understanding the deepest architectural secrets of the brain. A team of scientists led by Henry Markram has discovered that the brain operates up to 11 different dimensions, creating multidimensional structures “that we had never imagined.”
The team, which is studying the brain in its quest to replicate a functional brain (the Blue Brain program), used an advanced mathematical model to uncover the hidden architecture of the brain, which becomes apparent when information is processed. This is known as algebraic topology (a branch of mathematics that can describe systems with any number of dimensions), and is described as a combination of a microscope with a telescope. That has never been used before in neuroscience. “The algebraic topology is like a telescope and a microscope at the same time, it can expand the networks to find hidden structures – the trees in the forest – and see the voids – the clear – all at the same time,” he said. Described in the article, published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.
The team discovered that the brain forms clusters of neurons called cliques (clicks). Within these groups, each neuron connects to another in a very specific way that generates a geometric object. The more neurons that are connected, the greater the dimension of the geometric object. Researchers believe that this may explain why this organ is so complicated to understand. There were up to 11 different dimensions, which have been called cavities; these are a kind of hyper dimensional holes that emerge to process the information and then disappear. These cavities arise as the geometry of information processing.
In 2015, the Blue Brain project published the first digital copy of a neocortex piece: the most evolved part of the brain and the place where feelings and consciousness sit. The new research showed multiple tests in this virtual brain tissue to show that the multidimensional brain structures discovered could never be produced by chance.
When the researchers stimulated the tissue, groups of progressively larger dimensions met momentarily giving rise to large holes, which researchers call cavities. The researchers explain that the brain could function by constructing ever more complex geometric objects from one dimension onwards. Like a sand castle that is growing in complexity.
The big question these researchers ask is whether the complexity of the tasks we can perform depends on the complexity of the multidimensional “sand castles” the brain can build. Neuroscience has also endeavored to find the place where the brain stores its memories, and, as the authors suggest, they may be hidden “in large cavities.”
A world that surpasses our understanding
For Markram, this may explain why it has been so difficult to understand the brain so far. The mathematics applied to study the networks can’t detect the structures and spaces of so many dimensions that we now see clearly, he says.
If we already have trouble understanding a world in four dimensions, one with five, six or more surpasses our understanding.
“That’s why we turn to algebraic topology to describe it, because it’s like using a telescope and a microscope at the same time,” he points out in the article of Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.
Another colleague, Kathryn Hess, explains that you can zoom in on the nets to find hidden structures – the trees in the forest – and see the empty spaces – the clear ones – all at the same time.
In 2015, Blue Brain released the first digital copy of a piece of cerebral cortex, the most evolved part of the brain and the seat of our sensations, actions and consciousness.
In the latest research, using the same technique, multiple tests were performed on virtual brain tissue to show that the multidimensional brain structures discovered could not have been produced by chance.
Our brain is our greatest unknown important organ. In addition, it deceives us. An investigation of the University of Osnabrück in Germany explains how it favors the perception of invented images that are real and for that reason we trust in this “false vision” of the reality that in another more real and objective. The study further suggests that perhaps we should rely less on the evidence of reality perceived by our own senses. The blind spot is caused by a patch on the back of each eye where there are no light sensitive cells, only a gap where the neurons leave the eye on their way to the brain.
This could hardly sound more like science fiction. But there are still more. There are tens of millions of these objects in just a pinch of the brain, reaching up to seven dimensions, and in less frequent cases, structures that rise to 11 dimensions. Thus, for those who are looking for other dimensions: to look within themselves.