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Researchers have grown a 3D replica of a brain in a laboratory and successfully reproduced its wrinkled, folded shape. The new study published in Nature Physics may have finally answered the long-standing question of how the folds in our brains form, with the process seemingly determined more by the laws of physics than the driving forces of biology.
The reason our brains have a creased structure is clear from an evolutionary perspective: Folded brains shorten the distance that different sections have to communicate over. In addition, folding allows more of the cortex, the brain’s outer layer, to fit into a human skull. As we grow into adults, the brains volume increases 20 times, but the surface area thanks to these folds increases 30 times.
Without these folds, our cognitive capabilities would be dramatically limited. While we therefore know our brains organic origami has a distinct purpose, how these folds arise in the first place has been far less clear. Buta team of Harvard University researchers suspected that there might actually be a fairly simple, non-biological mechanism behind the development of the folds, grooves (sulci) and ridges (gyri) a process known as gyrification.
In order to test this theory, a 3D printed, gel-based replica of a brain was produced, based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of an actual fetal brain. Still smooth and unfolded, this model was coated in a one-millimeter-thick (0.04-inch)second layer of elastomer gel, a material analog for the cortex, and placed into a particular solvent.
The “cortex” development of the replica fetal brain. The study’s results are a no-brainer, really. Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS
Within just a few minutes of being immersed, the elastomer gel rapidly absorbed the solvent, making it grow out from the underlying gel. In order for it to stay attached to the underlying gel, the expanding gel began to mechanically contract and buckle, folding in on itself. The final result looked remarkably similar to the sulci pattern observed on a real fetal brain.
Previous theories on the driving processes behind gyrification have been more biology-focused, with one prominent idea being that the folds are induced by biochemical signals from within the brain, which subsequently causes the expansion and contraction of the cortex. This would allow certain, high priority regions of the brain to be better connected than others.
However, this study implies that physical, rather than biological, processes largelydetermineour brains folding pattern. Understanding the early stages of brain development is critical if researchers are to uncover the genesis of a range of neurodevelopmental brain disorders, including anencephaly, wherein a fetus early brain foundations begin to improperly form.
Brains are not exactly the same from one human to another, but we should all have the same major folds in order to be healthy, said Jun Young Chung, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and coauthor of the study, to the Harvard Gazette. Our research shows that if a part of the brain does not grow properly, or if the global geometry is disrupted, we may not have the major folds in the right place, which may cause dysfunction in the brain.
World of Warcraft is known for its dedicated fan base, and we do mean dedicated. That South Park episode parodying how much players invest in the game isn’t much of an exaggeration for some people.
Regardless of your addiction level, the game offers a virtual world where you can form complex relationships and alliances with your fellow players. Marriage is just the next step.
WoW doesn’t have an official system to link two characters or accounts in digital matrimony, but that hasn’t stopped some players from getting hitched anyway. In fact, some guilds manage to pull off some pretty swanky events, and just like IRL (in real life, for you non-gamers), the wedding ceremonies usually end with some serious partying.
Here are our top seven picks for WoW weddings: the good, the bad and the ridiculous. Let us know your favorite in the comments below.
Here we have a beautiful World of Warcraft wedding video made by YouTube user Spotcats. As silly as it may seem, this is actually an awesome video, complete with a heartwarming soundtrack (the ceremony is set to “From This Moment On” by Shania Twain — classic — and the reception includes “A Matter of Trust” by Billy Joel).
Nicely done, Spotcats.
When these two wedding crashers stumble upon what they think is a role-play wedding, they watch the ceremony, take part in a fireworks celebration and then one of them jokingly objects.
Then they discover that the couple had actually met through WoW and were getting married in real life. Oopsie.
Warning: NSFW language.
Most of this ceremony is in Swedish, but it doesn’t take a linguist to realize that this is the least religious ceremony to ever take place, especially when the groom motorboats the bride and whole wedding party goes for a “sexy” dip in a nearby fountain.
Other highlights include a lot of celebratory fistpumping, the mourning of a dead squirrel and the priest’s weird dirty dancing when the group goes to celebrate.
This is actually quite a lovely video, with the possible exception of the gnome who keeps trying to mack on the bride and is insulted when she actually goes through with the wedding. This is a good example for why you should be very selective when inviting people to your fake wedding.
Here’s another set of crashers, with a twist. When this group decided they wanted to crash the wedding, they knew there was only one way to go: dragons.
Watch them get accustomed to their new dragon bodies, troll the wedding and then start an orgy with the other guests. Now isn’t that the strangest sentence you’ve ever read?
It started out like a fairytale — a dream wedding in the picturesque Stormwind Cathedral … until a horde raids the party and kills everyone involved. We apologize for any Red Wedding-related flashbacks this may have caused.
While this couple chose a lovely spot for their nuptials, we can’t help but doubt their music choices. The epic battle march in the opening shots seemed out of place — that is, until we heard Barry White playing during the ceremony, which drained the romance and instead made it seem like stuff was about to get weird.
The best moment, however, has to be the heartfelt duet to Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” between the bride and groom. Now that’s a touching moment we’re glad we didn’t miss.
Mashable composite: image courtesy of Flickr, sobcontrollers