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Study: The human brain may not be special

The findings, aside from expanding the understanding of the human brain's evolution, show humans can learn important lessons about evolution by studying the way in which technology has developed and by looking to very simple organisms such as the nematode.
by Staff Writers
Cambridge, England (UPI) Apr 27, 2010
A British-led study has found striking similarities among the human brain, the nervous system of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans and computer chips.

A team of U.K., U.S. and German neuroscientists and computer experts led by University of Cambridge Professor Edward Bullmore compared the way the systems are organized and found all three have the same networking principles.

The researchers said they found all three share two basic properties: All have the same architecture, with the same patterns repeating at different scales; and all show what's known as Rentian scaling -- a rule used to describe the relationship between the number of elements in a given area and the number of links between them.

"These striking similarities can probably be explained because they represent the most efficient way of wiring a complex network in a confined physical space -- be that a three-dimensional human brain or a two-dimensional computer chip," Bullmore said.

He said the findings, aside from expanding the understanding of the human brain's evolution, show humans can learn important lessons about evolution by studying the way in which technology has developed and by looking to very simple organisms such as the nematode.

"This challenges the commonly held belief that the human brain is special," Bullmore said. "In fact, it actually has much in common with simple organisms such as the worm and with other animal species."

The paper appears in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.



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The Age Of Aquarius? Nope, It Is The Anthropocene Epoch
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 26, 2010
In just two centuries, humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time period that could alter the planet for millions of years, according to a group of prominent scientists that includes a Nobel Laureate. They say the dawning of this new epoch could lead to the sixth largest mass extinction in the Earth's history. ... read more







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