Sprouting Brain Connections Parallels Plant Growth.

In Brain Circuitry, Brain Development, Brain General Structure and Function, Brain Science, Genetics by Brainy Days Ahead

The sprouting of brain connections is governed by a mathematical logical process called a Gaussian function. This revelation is due to research by Salk scientists. The scientists find not only that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout connections, but also that there may be universal rules of logic governing branching growth across many biological systems. Their research is based on data from 3D laser scanning of plants which, despite their diversity of forms, share a similar decision-making process. The 3D technology allowed the researchers to capture the full architecture of how the plants grow and distribute branches in space and determine the likelihood of finding a branch at any point in the space surrounding a plant. It would be inefficient for plants to evolve different growth rules for every type of environmental condition, but the researchers did not expect to find that plants would be so efficient as to develop only a single functional form. The properties they identified in this work may help future researchers evaluate new strategies for genetically engineering crops and, one day, even brain connections.