Startling In Eleven Dimensions: Forever Restless Brain

The Blue Brain Project in Lausanne is opening a new window on the mammalian brain: Multi-dimensional algebraic topology. They are still in the early stages of using this tool, but their discoveries are already startling — in 11 dimensions!

On the left is a digital representation of the neocortex in the brain, and on the right is a series of shapes and structures that represent objects of between 1D and 7D – the black hole is the cavity(Credit: Blue Brain Project)

According to various theories, physics only makes sense if there are other dimensions out there that we can’t really picture or even perceive. They don’t really have names since they’re only used in somewhat specialized situations, but in addition to time there could be as many as 10 spatial dimensions. __

The 11th dimension is presumably “time.” Of course, in mathematics we can have as many dimensions as we wish. The trick in applied algebraic topology is to make the “dimensions” count for something real.

“We found a world that we had never imagined,” says neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, “there are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.”

Markram suggests this may explain why it has been so hard to understand the brain. “The mathematics usually applied to study networks cannot detect the high-dimensional structures and spaces that we now see clearly.” __

Opening this particular door onto the workings of the brain is likely to be especially fruitful, since it displays levels of neuronal network functioning that could never be revealed through conventional studies of brain imaging or “connectomics.”

Full research study from Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience

Meanwhile Back in Conventional Neuroscience . . .

Researchers at Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute for Brain Research are devising faster ways of mapping out the mammalian brain’s “connectome.” Using advanced electron microscopy, they are building faster and more detailed maps of how a brain’s many neurons actually connect.

Billions of nerve cells are working in parallel inside our brains in order to achieve behaviours as impressive as hypothesizing, predicting, detecting, thinking. These neurons form a highly complex network, in which each nerve cell communicates with about one thousand others. Signals are sent along ultrathin cables, called axons, which are sent from each neuron to its about one thousand „followers“.

Only thanks to recent developments in electron microscopy, researchers can aim at mapping these networks in detail. __

The Max Planck research utilises advanced graphical interfaces to allow human observers to more quickly detect connections and branching points of the connectome. Faster and more detailed mapping will help provide some of the underpinnings for more advanced dynamic models of micro-level neuronal networks such as described above at the Blue Brain Project in Lausanne.

Meanwhile in Minority Report Brain Territory

The ability to “mind-read” is something of a holy grail for government prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Solving crimes is one thing, but predicting them before they happen — and preventing them — would change the face of society.

latest research led by CMU’s Marcel Just builds on the pioneering use of machine learning algorithms with brain imaging technology to “mind read.” The findings indicate that the mind’s building blocks for constructing complex thoughts are formed by the brain’s various sub-systems and are not word-based. Published in Human Brain Mapping and funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the study offers new evidence that the neural dimensions of concept representation are universal across people and languages. __

The Carnegie Mellon University research is not at all revolutionary or particularly advanced — and it rests upon a number of tenuous assumptions. Nevertheless, it is suggestive. Rather than proving or disproving any particular hypothesis, this type of research is useful for suggesting newer iterations of studies and techniques.

The suggestion that the mind’s building blocks for complex thoughts are not word-based is insightful, but also quite obvious. It may take many years and decades, however, for mainstream society to catch up with that basic and seminal insight — if it ever does.

The Brain Never Sleeps

Even in sleep, coma, and deep anesthesia, the brain never sleeps. Patterns of mammalian brain activity are constantly changing and shifting, from the emergence of neuronal networks in utero until the death of the organism. We have barely begun to learn where we need to start if we are to come to a useful understanding of our own brains — just in small part.

Brain Science is Racing Ahead of the Human Herd

The potential for authentic breakthroughs in cognitive neuroscience will remain high as long as ideological bias is kept out. We have seen the destructiveness of politically correct oversight in climate science, the psychology of gender, genetics, anthropology, and other badly distorted fields of science. Ideology has no place in science — although try telling that to a fanatical Title IX advocate.

What science desperately needs, however, is an enlightened and liberating “philosophy” which helps to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the fertile from the wasteful. The honest from the fraudulent.

High quality cutting edge cognitive neuroscience has immense disruptive potential, but it is also very difficult to understand for most humans. As advanced concepts from mathematics, computing, physics, and other areas of knowledge integrate themselves into cognitive science, expect the difficulty levels to increase. This is why in the future, the only educated human will be the multi-disciplined human. One-field specialists are apt to become too quickly obsolete and replaced by generalist/machine combinations.

More: The Challenge of Current and Future Knowledge

It is bad enough that only 1% of scientific papers are published. Much worse, perhaps one tenth of 1% of published papers actually follow the scientific method.

Fewer than 1 percent of papers published in scientific journals follow the scientific method, according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.

Professor Armstrong, who co-founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Forecasting in 1982 and the International Journal of Forecasting in 1985, made the claim in a presentation about what he considers to be “alarmism” from forecasters over man-made climate change.

“We also go through journals and rate how well they conform to the scientific method. I used to think that maybe 10 percent of papers in my field … were maybe useful. Now it looks like maybe, one tenth of one percent follow the scientific method” said Armstrong in his presentation, which can be watched in full below. “People just don’t do it.” __ Quoted from Speech at 12th International Conference on Climate Change

Relationships Among Scientific Paradigms


Dangerous Children — competent multi-disciplined politically incorrect humans who network in groups, communities, and societies — have never been in greater demand.

This entry was posted in Connectome, Discovery, Human Brain and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Startling In Eleven Dimensions: Forever Restless Brain

  1. Bromidian says:

    Markram’s project has always been the academic equivalent of clickbait, but now he is taking the cake. This guy has no shame. Especially the use of the number 11 (*nudge* supersymmetric string theory) is pernicious.

    Draw 12 dots. Draw lines connecting each with each other. Congratulations, you have “discovered an 11-dimensional structure”.

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