Research calls ‘flat-brainers’ to arms

While flat-Earthers continue to debate even the remote possibility that our world is spherical, new research shows the human brain is actually better understood in 2D rather than 3D.

A team of Western neuroscientists, led by physicist Andrea Soddu, has developed a new method of calculating distance in the human brain, which will revolutionize the basic understanding of how we store, organize and analyze data while we are awake and asleep.

They’ve done it by studying the number of connections within the brain, as opposed to the more traditional standard of proximity in the physical space.

This discovery marks the first time that dimensionality of the human brain has been measured using a generalized version of the Ising model, which in its classical 2D form uses lattices as a framework to define the space and distance of objects on a two-dimensional plane.

For the study, Soddu and his team measured the abundance and proliferation of fibers (long, slender nerve cells) that connect the different parts of the same cerebral hemisphere (the left or the right), as well as the two separate hemispheres, and found that the brain is actually ‘wired’ as a flat object and not a three-dimensional one.

The findings were published by the journal Brain Connectivity.

“Regions of the brain are considered close not in terms of how physically close they are in a three-dimensional anatomical space but if they are connected by many fibers,” explained Soddu, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and core member of the Brain and Mind Institute. “On the contrary, regions of the brain connected by only few fibers appear to be very distant. Using these number patterns and sets, we were able to extract the dimensionality of the human brain and have found that the human brain is actually a flat, two-dimensional space and not a three-dimensional space as previously believed.”

Pubuditha Abeyasinghe, first author of the study, suggests that by exploring distance and dimensionality of the human brain, neuroscientists are able to better understand changes in spontaneous brain activity of healthy individuals and those with brain injuries.