The trespasser

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Science  12 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6436, pp. 118-121
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6436.118

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Physicist Danielle Bassett at the University of Pennsylvania has pioneered the use of concepts from physics and math to describe the dynamic connections in the human brain. Influenced by her unique homeschooled education, she now wants to find ways to optimize learning by using networks to represent both the brain and the material it learns. That bid to simplify our 86-billion-neuron organ of thought into a set of mathematical equations has been hard for some neuroscientists to get behind. And whether Bassett's toolbox of equations can make reliable predictions that inform treatments, such as targeted stimulation for brain disorders, is still unknown. But some neuroscientists are hoping the approach can capture aspects of the brain's higher-order organization that have long been elusive.