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Scientists Create Human Brain Model that Suggests How it Gets its Wrinkles


A team of scientists created a 3-D model of a human brain in order to demonstrate how it develops its various wrinkles and folds.

Published in the journal Nature Physics, the new study details how the gel model suggests the brain's cortex, the outer layer of cells wrinkles are the result of physics. After the scientists added a second layer to the gel model, they coated it with a solvent, which gradually created the wrinkles, according to BBC News.

"We found that we could mimic cortical folding using a very simple physical principle and get results qualitatively similar to what we see in real fetal brains," study co-author Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said in a press release. "This simple evolutionary innovation, with iterations and variations, allows for a large cortex to be packed into a small volume, and is likely the dominant cause behind brain folding, known as gyrification."

The model did not provide conclusive evidence the brain's wrinkles are the result of a purely physical process, but it does open other doors for scientists.

"In real brains there's something like a 20-fold increase in cortical area during development," study co-author Tuomas Tallinen, a soft matter physicist at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, told BBC News. "We can't create that in physical model - but in the numerical model we can. And we can also use more realistic parameters.

"We can study how brain geometry affects folding and creates the kind of arrangements of folds that we see in human brains."

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