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Why The Brain Has 'Gray Matter'

Date:
January 12, 2006
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
By borrowing mathematical tools from theoretical physics, scientists have recently developed a theory that explains why the brain tissue of humans and other vertebrates is segregated into the familiar "gray matter" and "white matter."
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By borrowing mathematical tools from theoretical physics, scientists have recently developed a theory that explains why the brain tissue of humans and other vertebrates is segregated into the familiar "gray matter" and "white matter."

The theory is based on the idea that maximum brain function requires a high level of interconnectivity among brain neurons but a low level of delays in the time it takes for signals to move through the brain ("conduction delays").

Based on no fewer than 62 mathematical equations and expressions, the theory ("Segregation of the Brain into Gray and White Matter: A Design Minimizing Conduction Delays") provides a possible explanation for the structure of various neurological regions including the cerebral cortex and spinal cord.

The research was carried out at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island by theoretical neuroscientist Dmitri Chklovskii and graduate student Quan Wen.

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The study was published in the December issue of PLoS Biology and is available at: http://compbiol.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pcbi.0010078


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Why The Brain Has 'Gray Matter'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060112040012.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2006, January 12). Why The Brain Has 'Gray Matter'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060112040012.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Why The Brain Has 'Gray Matter'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060112040012.htm (accessed May 24, 2015).

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