Monday, May 24, 2010

Cities and Brains


I was reading an interview with neuroscientist Henry Markram (Kushner, 2009), in which he says

"Even though the neocortex is the most is the most advanced region, it's got more order and organization and therefore is actually more tractable. If you go into the brain stem or other subcortical areas of the brain, the neurons have no distinguishing features. They're all kinds of shapes."

This reminds me of cities. Old parts of cities are convoluted, haphazard. They were made for the conveniences at the time and had no planning. Newer parts of cities are planned. They are often sensible grids. You can see this in the pictured map of Manhatten. 

I don't know if this analogy means anything, but analogies like this have made scientific advances in the past. Older parts of the brain are more haphazard, just like older parts of cities. Was there some analog to planning going on in brain evolution?

References

Kushner, D. (2009). The Discover interview: Henry Markram. Discover, December, 61--63, 77.Bookmark and Share

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