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Brain is laid out like the streets of Manhattan, new images show


The image shows the Manhattan-like grid structure of brain fibers using a powerful new scanner that is used to map the complex organ.


MGH-UCLA Human Connectome Project

The brain is laid out in a complex grid structure, defying notions that brain fibers are tangled like a pile of spaghetti with no particular order, a new study shows.

The new study at the Massachusetts General Hospital used a cutting-edge scanner to map the fibers of the brain that run from one side to the other, NPR reported.

“Basically, the overall structure of the brain ends up resembling Manhattan, where you have a 2-D plan of streets and a third axis, an elevator going in the third dimension,” said Van Wedeen, a physicist and radiologist at the hospital who led the study, said the Boston Globe.

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The new images challenge traditional views of brain layout.

Wedeen and his colleagues scanned animals and living human subjects using a new scanner that can achieve 10 times the resolution of conventional MRI machines.

Wedeen said that before, "the brain looked somewhat like a plate of spaghetti or perhaps like one of those old antique telephone switchboards with a million wires running more or less at random."

According to Nature, he went on to say "I'd been looking at pictures of these monkey brains for years without being able to understand why the fibers were so often looking like sheets, why the curvatures were so well behaved and so organized."

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