The brain is a fascinating organ and a topic of research in many different academic areas. I have always been fascinated by its sheer beauty as a geometric object and its complexity as a functional device. Since 2012, I have started an extensive research programme aimed at understanding the brain from a mathematical and physical point of view. My general philosophy is to try to link physical mechanisms (transport, signal, fluid, and solid structures) to the organisation of the brain and its functions. I am interested in developmental aspects applying ideas my previous work in morphoelasticity, regular and pathological aspects of the brain (as occurring during trauma for instance), and aspects of ageing and dementia.
The characteristic convoluted shape of the human brain was first reported in the Edwin Smith papyrus, an Egyptian manuscript dated 1,700BC that compares brain convolutions to the corrugations or wrinkles found in molten metal. The description, development, and function of these convolutions have also been major topics of research for the last two centuries.
The visible upper part of these convolutions are called gyri and their deep groves are referred to as sulci. Geometrically, the convolutions increase the surface area of the brain for a given volume. From a functional point of view, it is believed that they have the strategic functions of increasing the number of neuronal bodies located in the cortex and facilitating the connections between neurons hence reducing the traveling time of the electric signals between different regions.
Although different explanations have been proposed, the mechanisms behind gyrification are not yet understood.