DMRI is used primarily to study and treat neurological disorders—but it can also give researchers a view into the abnormalities in the brain’s white matter.
A related technology, known as functional MRI, allows Van Essen and his colleagues to look at all the “fluctuations up and down”—the activity occurring in the gray matter when impulses are sent to or from brain cells.
The CEREBRAL CORTEX however; contains one-fifth of the brain’s neurons and is believed to be responsible for most of the higher-order brain functions, like information processing, language and consciousness. Neuroscientists have discovered that certain parts of the cerebral cortex are associated with certain functions—the occipital lobe, for instance, is the visual processing center of the brain—but many of the finer details remained unmapped.
Dr. SEBASTIAN SEUNG explains in his book, Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, carving up the brain into distinct regions “will help us understand the pathologies that so often plague [the brain], as well as its normal operation.” For example, it’s expected that a better understanding of how a healthy brain is wired will lead to greater awareness of what symptoms might occur when a brain is misfired.