IPFS News Link • Science

Our brain matter is stuck at a phase transition, says new study

• arclein
"The structure of the brain at the cellular level appears to be near a phase transition," said Northwestern's Helen Ansell, the first author of a paper about the finding. "An everyday example of this is when ice melts into water. It's still water molecules, but they are undergoing a transition from solid to liquid. We certainly are not saying that the brain is near melting. In fact, we don't have a way of knowing what two phases the brain could be transitioning between. Because if it were on either side of the critical point, it wouldn't be a brain." To reach the conclusions put forward in the paper, which was just published in Nature Communications Physics, Ansell and colleague István Kovács, looked at publicly available 3D brain images of humans, mice and fruit flies. Looking at these images at the nanoscale, they discovered that brain tissue exhibits traits of universal scaling known as criticality, the point at which a material is either about to ?" or already undergoing ?"