HomeNASAThe human mind may be squished 10 occasions as simply as polystyrene...

The human mind may be squished 10 occasions as simply as polystyrene foam

Researchers used MRI scans and an algorithm to measure the stiffness and resilience to strain of the mind in dwelling individuals


14 December 2022

Human brain model on doctor hand. Doctor using pencil to demonstrate brain anatomy

Brains are surprisingly squishy


Although they could appear like they’re produced from rubber, human brains are softer and squishier. Their capability to withstand strain is way lower than the polystyrene foam used for packaging, extra akin to that of Jell-O.

Nicholas Bennion at Cardiff College within the UK and his colleagues got down to develop a way for acquiring extra correct measurements of the mind’s bodily properties inside dwelling people. Most of what we learn about how mind tissue reacts to devices touching it throughout neurosurgery comes from organs which have been minimize into or eliminated and preserved in chemical substances, which might have an effect on tissue stiffness and resilience.

The researchers carried out MRI scans of individuals mendacity face down after which withstand shift the situation of the mind within the cranium. By analysing this information with a machine studying algorithm, they have been capable of work out totally different materials traits of the mind and tissues that join it to the cranium. They quantified how a lot the mind collapses when pressed on, the way it reacts to being pushed sideways and the way springy the connective tissues are.

“When you take a mind which hasn’t been preserved in any means, its stiffness is extremely low, and it breaks aside very simply. And it actually might be loads softer than most individuals realise,” says Bennion.

The group discovered that mind matter may be compressed as much as 10 occasions as simply as polystyrene foam and that its resilience to being pushed sideways is a few thousandth of what it could be if it have been produced from rubber – its squishiness is akin to a slab of Jell-O. Bennion says that the algorithm calculated that the tissues connecting the mind to the cranium have been additionally pretty delicate, probably to guard the mind from transferring too abruptly.

Although researchers have lengthy recognized that brains are very delicate and really fragile, the brand new research makes that notion exact sufficient to raised inform delicate surgical procedures, says Ellen Kuhl at Stanford College in California.

The brand new technique, nonetheless, might not absolutely seize the way in which the mind deforms throughout motions extra violent than shifting positions, equivalent to head trauma in an contact sport or visitors accident, says Krystyn Van Vliet on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how. In these conditions, the move of fluids inside the mind can change its materials properties.

The group hopes the mannequin can now be used to foretell mind shifts that may happen throughout surgical procedure for every particular person affected person based mostly on pre-operative MRI scans. This may occasionally eradicate the necessity for inserting and re-inserting devices into the mind till they hit the proper spot, making procedures much less invasive.

Journal reference: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2022.0557

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