New study furthers understanding of how the human brain is organized

New research by scientists at the Human Brain Project (HBP) found associations between brain organization and brain function.

The study was published in NeuroImage and led by Daniel Zachold, PhD, of the Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine, Research Centre Jülich, in Julich, Germany, and researcher for the HBP. For the study, Zachold and his colleagues set out to better understand the association between how the brain is organized and how it functions.

The researchers studied three levels of cortical organization including cytoarchitecture, neurotransmitter receptor architecture, and neurotransmitter receptor gene expression. Using a three-dimensional multimodal atlas of the human brain called Julich Brain Atlas, scientists analyzed cytoarchitectonic and receptor architectonic data. This allowed the researchers to better understand properties of functional systems within the brain and how those areas of the brain process information.

Scientists then studied the corresponding genes in 15 different cytoarchitectonic areas of the visual, auditory, somatosensory, and motor systems, paying special attention to how gene expression effects each functional system.

“We found that the receptor architecture and gene expression patterns within a functional system change in a systematic way, in correspondence to increasing complexity of information processing,” said Katrin Amunts, PhD, the scientific director of HBP.

Using the Julich Brain Atlas, researchers in this study were able to uncover more information on how the brain’s organization relations to its function, giving scientists a better idea of what a healthy brain should look like, according to the study.