how many inter-neuronic connections are there in the human brain?

“MAYBE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND how com­plex a struc­ture the human brain is. Be­lieve me, it makes the side­real uni­verse look like a child’s building set. There are many times more pos­sible inter-neuronic con­nec­tions than there are atoms in the en­tire cosmos—the factor is some­thing like ten to the power of sev­eral million.

It’s not sur­prising that a slight change in electrochemistry—too slight to make any any im­por­tant dif­fer­ence in the body—will change the whole na­ture of the mind. Look what a little dope or al­cohol will do.”

— Poul An­derson (Brain Wave, 1954)

A world we never imagined

“The human brain is one of na­ture’s most com­plex struc­tures, and sci­en­tists are still a long way from un­der­standing its me­chanics. But a new study has come one step closer to un­locking its se­crets by un­rav­el­ling its im­mense complexity.

The re­search has re­vealed that the mind is home to shapes and struc­tures that have as many as 11 di­men­sions. And un­der­standing these struc­tures could help us to re­veal ex­actly how mem­o­ries are formed.

The re­search used in-depth com­puter mod­el­ling to un­der­stand how brain cells or­ganise them­selves to carry out com­plex tasks.

‘We found a world that we had never imag­ined,’ said neu­ro­sci­en­tist Henry Markram, di­rector of Blue Brain Project 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.’

The com­plex geo­metric shapes form when a group of brain cells—known as neurons—merge to make what sci­en­tists call a ‘clique’. Every neuron con­nects to its neigh­bour in a spe­cific way to form an ob­ject with com­plex in­ter­con­nec­tions. The more neu­rons that join in with the ‘clique’, the more ‘di­men­sions’ are added to the object.

Shapes that are three-dimensional have height, width and depth, like any ob­ject in the real world.  The ob­jects dis­cov­ered in this study don’t exist in more than three di­men­sions in the real world, but the math­e­matics used to de­scribe them can have five, six, seven, or even eleven dimensions.”

— Daisy Dunn (Daily Mail, 2017)


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