From Medical Xpress:

In new research published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of scientists from the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, in the Faculty of Medicine, unraveled a longstanding mystery of a fundamental property of the brain.

It has long been known that the brain uses topographic organization, meaning that parts of the brain that make similar types of computations are situated close to each other (also known as brain maps or spatial computation). However, in the case of pathology, these topographies may undergo re-organization. The researchers now show that it is the continuity of these brain maps which is disturbed. Moreover, this continuity can be quantified, allowing them to be used as a biomarker for detecting neuropsychiatric disease.

In order to understand this relationship, researchers from Hebrew University’s Computational Neuropsychiatry Laboratory and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC), as well as a neurosurgeon from Hadassah Medical Center, investigated the role of topographic organizational continuity.

Using functional MRI, they studied two types of unique patient populations: patients with injury to one side of the spinal cord, which enabled comparison of disturbed and non-disturbed body sides, and patients undergoing surgical repair.

This approach enabled direct comparison in human patients with respect to their own self or before and after surgical intervention. Instead of inducing lesions in animals, the team could repair the human patients and check them before and after. Importantly, unlike animals, patients could report their subjective experience,…

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