Saturday, November 13, 2021

Brain and universe: do they evolve in the same way?

Are there similarities between the human brain and the universe? If so, what are they and how are they produced? Does the processing of information in the cosmos and in the human mind follow similar patterns? Is the vastness of the universe a necessary condition for the existence of the brain? Why can these findings be so important?

These questions have been outlined before ancient /Egypt, and we are still looking for answers. Thanks to technological and scientific progress, it has been possible to demonstrate something that was considered a long time ago: the brain and the universe are two similar entities, although on a different scale.

A recent study published in Frontiers in Physics quantitatively compared the neural network and the cosmic web of the universe. His conclusion is that the universe may be growing in the same way as a giant brain, with the electrical firing between brain cells reflected by the shape of expanding galaxies.

The tantalizing degree of similarity exhibited by these analyzes seems to suggest that the self-organization of both systems is likely being shaped by similar principles of network dynamics.

The universe and the mind. As above, so below. -Hermes Trismegistus (ancient Egypt) -.

The universe seen as a giant brain

Franco Vazza, an astrophysicist, and Alberto Feletti, a neurosurgeon, found that both the universe and the brain are organized in well-defined networks, with nodes interconnected through filaments and whose typical extension is only a small fraction of their host system. According to the authors, this could be because both networks grew as a result of similar physical principles.

Universe and brain differ in scale by 27 orders of magnitude (that is, the universe is one billion trillion trillion larger than our brain), but the analysis of both parts that in the different physical processes can lead to the emergence of similar structures in complexity and self-organization.

Both are apparently passive materials, with 70% mass or energy within each system composed of elements that play only an indirect role in their internal structures. It is about water in the case of the brain and dark energy in the observable universe.

The brain builds a version of the universe and projects this version of the universe as a bubble around us. So I can say with some certainty "I think, therefore I am". But I cannot say "do you think that, therefore, you are, because you are inside my perceptual bubble?"

-Henry Markram, Neuroscientist.

The cosmic network and neural networks are based on connections

This new study indicates that a single fundamental law of nature can govern these networks. The results of a computer simulation suggested that the "dynamics of natural growth" (the way systems evolve) are the same for different types of networks, be it the internet, the human brain, or the universe as a whole.

When the history of the universe was compared with the growth of social networks and brain circuits, they found that all networks expanded in a similar way: they balanced the links between similar nodes with those that already had many connections.

Probably, "the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers that regulate galaxies and neurons," the neurosurgeon Feletti described what he described as "unexpected levels of likeness".

One of the analyzes showed that the distribution of fluctuation within the cerebellum neural network on a scale of 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeter follows the same progression as the distribution of matter in the cosmic network but, of course, in a larger scale ranging from five million to 500 million light years.

Top panels: enlarged details of the reconstructed connections between nodes for three examples of networks in our sample (blue lines, superimposed on the density contrast maps). Bottom panels: distributions of the clustering coefficient and the degree of centrality for all cuts (error bars give the dispersion within each investigated sample of cuts)

Why might these findings be so important?

Quantum physics seems to play a subtle role in both galaxies and brain synapses. Viewing the universe as an immense computer leads us to crucial questions about its program and its memory.

The method used to find the hitherto unusual structural similarities between the human brain and the universe can be of great help in the fields of cosmology and neurosurgery.

The importance of the discovery of this method lies in the fact that it can help to decipher and better understand the dynamics of time evolution, both of the brain and of the universe.

It is wonderful to understand that to go from just being an advanced race of monkeys on a planet smaller than an average star. But we can understand the universe and that makes us very special.


Credits: Fátima Servián Franco

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