The wiring of an insect’s brain no longer contains much uncharted territory.
All the nerve cells — and almost all the connections between them — in the larval fruit fly brain have already been deformed, researchers report on March 10. Science. It is the most complex whole brain wiring diagram yet created.
Previously, only three organisms—the sea urchin and two species of worm—had fully diagrammed brain circuitry at this resolution. But the brains of those creatures have a few hundreds of neurons. The scientists who conducted the new study wanted to understand much more about the complexities of the brain.
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fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) communicate with people in a wide range of behavioral ways, including sensitive information and learning. Larvae are almost all the same as adult flies – with the exception of some, such as flying and gathering – but they have smaller brains, given that they gather much more quickly.SN: 7/19/18).
The idea for this project came 12 years ago, says neuroscientist Marta Zlatic of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. At that time, she and her colleagues were flying electron microscope images of the entire larval fruit brain. They then ran those images on a computer and manually drew individual neurons to create a 3-D rendering of the cells. Finally, the team found the connections where information passed between cells, and also determined the sending and receiving boundaries.
The researchers identified more than 3,000 neurons and about 550,000 connections, known as synapses.
Neurons transmit circuit information to each other. Examining the patterns of neuronal connections — not only directly connected partners, but also the connections between connected cells and so on — revealed 93 different types of neurons. Consonant classes with pre-existing connections are characterized by shape and function. And nearly 75 percent of the well-connected neurons are linked to the brain’s learning center, indicating the importance of learning in animals.
The researchers hope that this work will serve as a blueprint for the collaboration of scientists studying the environment of the brain. “Now we have a report,” Zlatic says.
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