3D Printing Reveals the Hidden Physics Behind the Brain’s Folds and Furrows

The outermost layer of the brain, the cortex, is a confounding geography of furrows, folds, and wrinkles. One could even say that the defining physical feature of the brain is the presence of these folds, which serve to increase the surface area of the brain and thereby increase its population of cortical neurons. This has a direct link to intelligence: memory, attention, awareness, thought, etc. More cortical neurons, more intelligence. How these folds came to be, however, has been an ongoing neuroscience mystery. Much research has been dedicated to studying the genetic and cellular mechanisms behind cortical growth, but increasing attention has been given to mathematical and physical models. One well-publicized study from last summer, for example, found that cortical development follows a simple mathematical function: “A power function derived…


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