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Unlocking the Mysteries of the Fruit Fly Brain: How a Gigantic Map of Neurons is Transforming Neuroscience

Mar. 20, 2023.
1 min. read 7 Interactions

Fly Brain Map Reveals Secrets of Neural Networks and Diseases. A Groundbreaking Study in Neuroscience.

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Lewis Farrell

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Highly curious about things that increase my awareness, expand my perception, and make me open to being a better person.

The first complete brain-wiring diagram of a small insect, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, was recently produced by scientists. The map depicts 3,016 neurons and 548,000 synapses tightly packed in the brain of a young Drosophila, which is the size of a poppy seed. This groundbreaking study is significant because it for the first time provides a brain-wiring diagram known as the connectome of a complex animal.

This diagram depicts how the brain processes sensory information and converts it into action. This reference brain can help researchers learn more about neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The researchers used a nanometre-resolution electron microscope to capture images of the brain of a single six-hour-old Drosophila larva, and then used a computer-assisted program to pinpoint the neurons and synapses. The researchers followed each neuron’s twisting connections and annotated 548,000 synapses into four types, demonstrating that the insect’s brain was multilayered.

The current map contains data from a single animal, but the authors believe that technological advances will allow them to map more flies—and eventually other species—in the future. This study is regarded as a watershed moment in neuroscience, and there are plans to map the adult Drosophila brain, which has more neurons and is more complex.

Source: Nature (link)
Images: MidJourney, Prompts by Lewis Farrell

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