New Discovery: Swirling Spirals Move Across Your Brain

Andy Hab
3 min readSep 8, 2023

New discovery could be a missing link in cognitive processing

Do I want swirling spirals on my brain?

I am sure you do — it looks like they could be very important. This could be groundbreaking, actually!

Explain, please!

Let’s look at the discovery itself first. This is from researchers at Fudan University in China and the University of Sydney. They analysed data from over 100 brain scans and used modelling used in complex wave patterns such as turbulence. And this has given rise to this surprise discovery.

So they found spirals not waves?

Well, we’ve known from the early days of neuroscience that the brain develops and operates with brain waves. However, even their importance on brain processing is not fully understood.

There are also some interesting theories on these waves such as how they spontaneously rise and fall creating waves of activity and functionality across the brain.

However, these researchers have used more refined data and modelling and they found spirals of activity moving across the outer cortex. Remember the outer cortex is considered our higher functional area in the brain where much higher order processing happens.

You can see a video here:

Oh wow! That’s kind of beautiful

Yup, and what’s more these vortices rotate around phase singularities (which is in itself fascinating) and are related to specific cognitive activity.

The researchers note that: “The properties of these brain spirals, such as their rotational directions and locations, are task relevant and can be used to classify different cognitive tasks”.

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So they can classify tasks from these signals?

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Andy Hab

Sharing fascinating, fun, and important knowledge on the brain and human behaviour - most days. And masters track athlete - still going strong!