Our Results Suggest That The Human Brain Resembles A Flock Of Birds

Indirectly related to tDCS but a fascinating new paper attempts to understand how the frontal cortex is responsible for cognitive control.

“Surprisingly,” Bassett said, “our results suggest that the human brain resembles a flock of birds. The flock comes to a consensus about which way to fly based on how close the birds are to one another and in what formation. Birds that fly at specific places in the flock can drive changes in the flock’s direction, being leaders in a so-called multi-agent system.
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“We’re very interested in controlling brain networks with techniques like optogenetics, transcranial magnetic or direct-current stimulation, deep brain stimulation or even neurofeedback,” Bassett said, “but the problem has been that there is little theoretical basis to determine how these stimulations affect the dynamics of the whole brain. In most cases, stimulation is applied via trial and error. This research helps to build up an understanding of the impact of stimulation in one region on cognition as a whole.”

Future research will test whether “wiring” differences between people predict their performance on cognitive tasks. It will also underpin work on therapeutic and adaptive technologies that capitalize on brain networks’ unique advantages over their computerized counterparts.

Article: Penn, University of California and Army Research Lab Show How Brain’s Wiring Leads to Cognitive Control
Paper: Controllability of structural brain networks

Huge Flock of Starlings Caught on Film (Hereford, UK 2014)

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