Traffic as a Metaphor for Network Neuroscience
Scientists commonly make use of literary means, including metaphors, to build on an intuition around a problem, and in an attempt to relate it to other concepts. Because of the multidisciplinary character of the neuroscientific field and the extremely complex nervous system, the use of metaphors is helpful. They may help explain and clarify complicated concepts and ideas, but can also be of value in making the technical language more accessible. To be able to understand the brain as a network more thoroughly by expressing it through metaphorical language, it is essential that this metaphor covers the complexity of the human brain, including structural and functional characteristics of the brain, in a dynamically temporal setting. In other words, a metaphor is needed that not only investigates the information flow, but also covers the structural architecture of the brain and allows to investigate the brain from a network perspective in a multi-dimensional manner. We here propose to use the traffic network as a metaphor to better understand the brain as a network in health and disease. The traffic network can be viewed from many different perspectives (roads, traffic on roads, A-road and B-roads, road quality, traffic jams, obstruction, dynamical critical pattern formation), which may very well provide new leads or clarify old ones in the study of the complexity of the brain as a network.
1. Geurts, J.J., Pouwels, P.J., Uitdehaag, B.M., Polman, C.H., Barkhof, F., and Castelijns, J.A. (2005). Intracortical lesions in multiple sclerosis: Improved detection with 3D double inversion-recovery MR imaging. Radiology 236 (1), 254- 60.
2. Geurts, J.J. and Barkhof, F. (2008). Grey matter pathology in multiple sclerosis. The Lancet Neurology 7 (9), 841-51.
3. JJG Geurts, J. Killestein, GJ Schenk. Ins and outs. Van inflammatie naar degeneratie bij Multiple Sclerose. Esculaap Media (2014)
Personal page: http://jeroengeurts.nl/