A universal scaling law between gray matter and white matter of cerebral cortex

Kechen Zhang, Terrence J. Sejnowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neocortex, a new and rapidly evolving brain structure in mammals, has a similar layered architecture in species over a wide range of brain sizes. Larger brains require longer fibers to communicate between distant cortical areas; the volume of the white matter that contains long axons increases disproportionally faster than the volume of the gray matter that contains cell bodies, dendrites, and axons for local information processing, according to a power law. The theoretical analysis presented here shows how this remarkable anatomical regularity might arise naturally as a consequence of the local uniformity of the cortex and the requirement for compact arrangement of long axonal fibers. The predicted power law with an exponent of 4/3 minus a small correction for the thickness of the cortex accurately accounts for empirical data spanning several orders of magnitude in brain sizes for various mammalian species, including human and nonhuman primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5621-5626
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume97
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 9 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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