Why the Brain Has "Gray Matter"

By borrowing mathematical tools from theoretical physics, CSHL neuroscientist Dmitri Chklovskii and graduate student Quan Wen recently developed a theory that explains why the brain tissue of humans and other vertebrates is segregated into the familiar "gray matter" and "white matter."

Based on no fewer than 62 mathematical equations and expressions, the theory provides a possible explanation for the structure of various regions including the cerebral cortex and spinal cord. The theory is based on the idea that maximum brain function requires a high level of interconnectivity among brain neurons but a low level of delays in the time it takes for signals to move through the brain.

The study was published in the December issue of PLoS Biology and is available at:


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