Researchers have made a map of the human brain that shows a dense network of connections at the top of the cerebral cortex, suggesting that electrical signals travel through this hub on their way to more specialized regions. “This is just about the coolest paper I’ve seen in a long time, and forward-looking in terms of where the science is going,” said Dr. Marcus E. Raichle, a professor of neurology and radiology… who was not involved in the research. He added, “They’ve found in the brain what looks like a hub map of the airline system for the United States” [The New York Times].
An international team of researchers used a technique called diffusion spectrum imaging to map the connections between different parts of the brain. The technique traces the path of water moving along axons, long fibers that extend from a neuron’s main body and carry electrical signals [Science News]. They found the most connections at the top of the cortex along the crack that separates the brain’s two hemispheres. According to researchers, that area is not only a relay station, it’s also the area that’s most active when the brain is in “default mode,” the activation state present when the brain is not engaged in any specific cognitive task [The Scientist].