These brain waves, which resemble spiraling eddies, were discovered in the rough outer layer of the brain, known as the cortex.
A group of researchers from Australian and Chinese scientific institutions revealed that a set of mysterious signals that rotate like vortices in the human brain could contribute to the execution of complex brain activitiesreported the University of Sydney (Australia).
The authors of the study, recently published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, commented that these brain waves were detected from brain scans of 100 young adults, obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), when they were at rest and engaged in cognitive activities.
They also detailed that they are organized in patterns that resemble spiral eddies in the rough outer layer of neuronal tissue, known as the cortex. This superficial part of the brain is responsible for managing numerous cognitive functions, such as perception, memory, attention, language, and consciousness.
Vortices connecting parts of the brain
Although the exact function of these signals is unknown, the scientists suggested that, after analyzing their turbulent patterns, they may act as communication bridges to connect different regions of the brain, thus helping to efficient coordination of brain activity.
“Just as vortices act in turbulence, spirals participate in intricate interactions, playing a crucial role in organizing the complex activities of the brain,” said scientist Pulin Gong, adding that “the complex interactions between multiple spirals” would allow for “remarkable computational efficiency”, since “neural calculations” could be carried out in a “distributed and parallel” manner.
Additionally, it was identified that these spirals could be organizing brain activity through dynamic rotational changes. This was verified when the participants were assigned activities related to language processing and working memory tasks, such as listening to a story or completing a math problem.
“A key feature of these brain whorls is that they often emerge at the boundaries separating the different functional networks of the brain,” said researcher Yiben Xu, adding that “through their rotational movement, they effectively coordinate the flow of activity between these networks.
Finally, the specialists indicated that the discovery of these brain waves will allow us to understand how the brain works and to know its fundamental functions. They also pointed out that these vortices will help physicians understand about the effects of brain diseases, such as dementia.
“By unraveling the mysteries of brain activity and discovering the mechanisms that govern its coordination, we are getting closer to unlocking the full potential of understanding cognition and brain function,” Gong concluded.
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