Brain expansion: efficiency of neuron connections (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, March 03, 2021, 20:30 (66 days ago) @ David Turell

Distributed with the most efficiency:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210302150116.htm

High-resolution imaging and 3D computer modeling show that the dendrites of neurons weave through space in a way that balances their need to connect to other neurons with the costs of doing so.

The discovery, reported in Nature Scientific Reports Jan. 27, emerged as researchers sought to understand the fractal nature of neurons as part of a University of Oregon project to design fractal-shaped electrodes to connect with retinal neurons to address vision loss due to retinal diseases.

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Working with collaborators at the University of Auckland and University of Canterbury in New Zealand, confocal microscopy of neurons in the hippocampal region of a rat's brain revealed an intricate interplay of branches weaving through space at multiple size scales before connecting to other neurons. That, Taylor said, raised the question, why adopt such a complicated pattern?

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"By distorting their branches and looking at what happens, we were able to show that the fractal weaving of the natural branches is balancing the ability of neurons to connect with their neighbors to form natural electric circuits while balancing the construction and operating costs of the circuits," Rowland said.

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Nature's fractals benefit from how they grow at multiple scales, said Taylor, who has long turned to fractals as bioinspiration. While trees have the most-recognized form of fractal branching, this work, he said, highlights how neurons are different from trees.

"Whereas the fractal character of trees originates predominantly from the distribution of branch sizes, the neurons also use the way their branches weave through space to generate their fractal character," Taylor said.

Comment: Fractal patterns exist all through nature, and are simple repetitions of the same patterns. They are highly efficient. Chanced arrangement of neurons would not be efficient. Design required


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