A new research study has shown that the human brain contains shapes and structures that may have up to 11 dimensions!
Two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks looked into the night sky and saw the geometric shapes that arise among the stars: a hunter, a lion, a vase of water. In a sense, they used these constellations to give sense to randomly scattered stars in the fabric of the Universe. Turning astronomy into forms, they found a way to streamline and give meaning to a highly complex system.
In modern time, a team of researchers at the Blue Brain Project (a computer brain modeling project) in Lausanne, Switzerland offered an interesting idea that could explain the complexities of the human brain. Using algebraic topology – the type of mathematics that “projects” complex compounds in the form of graphs – these scientists have mapped the way of complex functions that arise from the structure of neural networks.
Mathematical methods of algebraic topology have helped these scientists to discover structures and multidimensional geometric spaces in brain networks. “The brain has 86 billion neurons, each connected to other cells in every possible direction. This forms the broad cellular network responsible for our ability to think and realize,” Science Alert reports.
This important discovery reveals that while the human brain physically exists in the three-dimensional world, its internal connections – mathematically speaking – operate in a much more multidimensional space. In other words, assembling and disassembling neural connections is highly complex, even more than expected. But now there is a language that describes them.
The sensational discovery overturned the ideas of the research community.
The international group of scientists gathered around the Blue Brain project and came up with unprecedented results. Their study was published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. The team found neural structures in the human brain that represent a multidimensional universe. The first geometric design of nerve connections and the way they respond to stimuli are revealed.
Scientists used computer-modeling techniques. They understood how human brain cells are capable of organizing themselves to perform complex tasks. Groups of neurons have been found to bind to larger groups. The total number of neurons determines the dimensions of the multidimensional geometric object.
Dr. Henry Markram, a neuroscientist, and director of the Blue Brain project explained: “We’ve uncovered tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. However, in some networks, we even discovered structures with up to 11 dimensions.”
In 2015, the team did multiple tests on a digital copy of a neocortex piece to prove that the multidimensional brain structures they discovered could never be produced by chance.
Now, experiments were carried out on real brain tissue at the Blue Brain laboratory, confirming that the previous findings in the virtual tissue are biologically relevant. The test results also suggest that the brain is constantly rewired during development to build a network of many structures with progressively higher dimensions.
Rand Levy of the University of Aberdeen, who is working on the report, says:
“The presence of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information indicates that the neurons in the network respond to stimuli in a remarkably organized manner.”
“It is as if the brain responds to an inducement by constructing then smashing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), planks (2D), cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The sequence of activity throughout the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that has the ability to materialize out of the sand and then disintegrate.”
Furthermore, these scientists point out that it’s not about the three physical dimensions, but about how many levels the neurons in our brain are connected to.
The big question they are asking now is whether the complexity of the tasks people can perform depends on the complexity of the multidimensional ‘sand castles’ the human brain can construct. Neuroscientists have also been attempting to learn where the human brain stores its memories. “They can be ‘hidden’ in large cavities,” speculates Markram.