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Mapping the brain’s superhighways

Scanning technique reveals order to information flow

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2:05pm, March 29, 2012

The impossibly complicated brain just got a little simpler. Instead of looking like a tangled mess of noodle soup, pathways in the brain are arranged more like a package of neatly interwoven ramen noodles, a new brain scanning study reveals. The results offer more clues to how the human brain gets built and how it has evolved.

Scientists led by Van Wedeen of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston used a scanning technique called diffusion magnetic resonance imaging that detects the direction of traffic flow along white matter tracts, the brain’s information superhighways. The scans revealed that these brain signals form a grid, made up of parallel and perpendicular tracts

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