A universal theory of the brain

The UiB brain researchers Kenneth Hugdahl and Karsten Specht recently published an article documenting proof for a generalized active network for cognitive functions of the brain.

Scan of a human brain, to accompany an article about a new theory of cognitive functions.
REVOLUTIONARY RESEARCH: Professors Kenneth Hugdahl and Karsten Specht of the Bergen fMRI Group want to prove the existence of a cognitive network that connects all of the human brain.

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“I experienced a kind of moment that may be more common for theoretical physicists: the idea that something just has to be there, even though you cannot see it,” says neuroscientist Kenneth Hugdahl from the Bergen fMRI Group in an interview with the University of Bergen’s newspaper På Høyden.

See the Facts on the right for more information about the Bergen fMRI Group.


A common network?

Initially Hugdahl thought that he was just misunderstanding. But during preparations for a lecture he sat with nine fMRI images in front of him, when he suddenly discovered that the active red and yellow regions in the brain-map appeared in almost the same places in all images. The neuroscientist had to ask himself: could it be possible that there was an existing network in the brain that overlapped between all cognitive functions?

On 6 August 2015, the article On the existence of a generalized non-specific task-dependent network was published in the online journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Professor Hugdahl is the co-author with his colleague from Bergen fMRI Group, Professor Karsten Specht, and Kavli-price winner Professor Marcus Raichle and his Postdoctoral fellow Anish Mitra from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.


First step in a new direction

Although the idea has been mentioned before, no brain researchers previously have been able to empirically prove that there is a cognitive network “for everything”. The idea of something that works as some sort of wiring diagram for the brain is therefore quite revolutionary.

Traditionally, this kind of brain research has focused on looking at individual functions of problem solving in specific areas of the brain. Hugdahl and his colleagues' article could be the first step in a new direction, toward something that can become the neuroscientific version of the theory of everything” – one single explanation for all active, cognitive functions.

The full news article in På Høyden can be read here (only in Norwegian).