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Study reveals shared blueprint in brain development across different functional areas

March 8, 2024

In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School investigated brain development to understand how different areas of the brain become specialized in handling information such as vision, sound, touch and planning.

The study found that different areas of the brain start with a similar organization rather than already being specialized in early development. This suggests that the brain might use a single shared blueprint to guide early development. 

The research team used advanced optical imaging techniques to measure spontaneous activity in diverse brain areas. They found that even in different parts of the brain — such as those responsible for hearing, seeing and feeling touch — as well as in areas linked to thinking in both the front and back part of the brain, the activity in networks of brain cells showed a very similar organization during early development. Researchers discovered that nerve cells in these areas work together in small, synchronized groups. These groups are part of bigger networks that cover millimeters in each part of the brain.