Does the human brain look like deep space?


IMAGE: Left: area of cerebellum, with zoom aspect 40x, acquired with electron microscopy (Dr. E. Zunarelli, University Health Center of Modena); right: area of a cosmological simulation, with an extension of 300 …
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Credit: University of Bologna

In their paper released in Frontiers of Physics, Franco Vazza (astrophysicist at the University of Bologna) and Alberto Feletti (neurosurgeon at the University of Verona) examined the resemblances in between 2 of the most tough and intricate systems in nature: the cosmic network of galaxies and the network of neuronal cells in the human brain.

Regardless of the considerable distinction in scale in between the 2 networks (more than 27 orders of magnitude), their quantitative analysis, which sits at the crossroads of cosmology and neurosurgery, recommends that varied physical procedures can construct structures identified by comparable levels of intricacy and self-organization.

The human brain functions thanks to its broad neuronal network that is considered to consist of around 69 billion nerve cells. On the other hand, the observable universe can count on a cosmic web of a minimum of 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, just 30% of their masses are made up of galaxies and nerve cells. Within both systems, galaxies and nerve cells organize themselves in long filaments or nodes in between the filaments. Lastly, within both systems, 70% of the circulation of mass or energy is made up of parts playing an obviously passive function: water in the brain and dark energy in the observable Universe.

Beginning with the shared functions of the 2 systems, scientists compared a simulation of the network of galaxies to areas of the cortex and the cerebellum. The objective was to observe how matter changes spread over such varied scales.

” We computed the spectral density of both systems. This is a strategy typically used in cosmology for studying the spatial circulation of galaxies”, discusses Franco Vazza. “Our analysis revealed that the circulation of the change within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the exact same development of the circulation of matter in the cosmic web however, obviously, on a bigger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years”.

The 2 scientists likewise computed some criteria identifying both the neuronal network and the cosmic web: the typical variety of connections in each node and the propensity of clustering a number of connections in appropriate main nodes within the network.

” When once again, structural criteria have actually recognized unanticipated contract levels. Most likely, the connection within the 2 networks develops following comparable physical concepts, regardless of the striking and apparent distinction in between the physical powers controling galaxies and nerve cells”, includes Alberto Feletti. “These 2 intricate networks reveal more resemblances than those shared in between the cosmic web and a galaxy or a neuronal network and the within a neuronal body”.

The motivating outcomes of this pilot research study are triggering the scientists to believe that brand-new and efficient analysis methods in both fields, cosmology, and neurosurgery, will permit a much better understanding of the routed characteristics underlying the temporal advancement of these 2 systems.


This research study was released in Frontiers of Physics with the title “The quantitative contrast in between the neuronal network and the cosmic web”. Its authors are Franco Vazza from the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna, and Alberto Feletti from the Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine, and Motion of the University of Verona. .

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not accountable for the precision of press release published to EurekAlert! by contributing organizations or for using any details through the EurekAlert system.

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