Computer Technique Creates Map of a Fruit Fly Brain

Apr 12, 2010 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Credit: Hanchuan Peng, via ScienceNews

Researchers, led by Hanchuan Peng, at the Janelia Farm Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia are working to map the fruit fly brain in a way that highlights how neurons work together. The detail is done on a cell by cell basis that can provide insight into networks of neurons inside fruit fly brains.

In order to create the map of a fruit fly , flies were modified genetically in such a way that certain neurons glow under laser light. Digital images from different are combined, using computers. While the fruit fly brain isn't completely mapped out yet, the technique allows researchers to add to the knowledge base as more images are made available.

The computerized map building is already yielding results, reports ScienceNews:

[T]he variety of shapes found in the neurons of a wheel-shaped brain structure called the ellipsoid body “are just amazing,” Peng says. In the same fly, some of the cell bodies spread inside the ring, while others point outward in a complex lock-and-key arrangement. Finding such unexpected variation could mean that these neurons — which were thought to be nearly carbon copies of each other — have important functional differences.

Being able to map a fruit fly brain in this way, identifying the differences in neurons, could contribute to our understanding of the human brain. If this technique works on the fruit fly brain, considered one of the simplest brains with an estimated 100,000 neurons, there is a possibility that the technique could also be used to begin mapping the human brain. However, the human brain has billions of , and is significantly more complex than a fruit fly brain.

Even so, the idea that we could gain a greater understanding of how our own brains work is an exciting possibility to come out of this computer technique.

Explore further: Neymar's brain on auto-pilot - Japan neurologists

More information: Laura Sanders, "Mapping the fruit fly brain," ScienceNews (2010). Available online: www.sciencenews.org/view/gener… _the_fruit_fly_brain.

Related Stories

3-D fruit fly images to benefit brain research

Sep 05, 2007

The fragile head and brain of a fly are not easy things to examine but MRC scientists have figured out how to make it a little simpler. And they hope their research will shed light on human disease.

Fruit Fly Brains Provide Clues to Autism Research

Jan 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Linda L. Restifo of the Arizona Research Laboratory at The University of Arizona has developed a highly unique and promising methodology that uses fruit fly brains to screen for drugs that ...

Attention drug drives memory research

Jan 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute have found a way to measure the attention span of a fly, which could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ...

Recommended for you

Neymar's brain on auto-pilot - Japan neurologists

4 hours ago

Brazilian superstar Neymar's brain activity while dancing past opponents is less than 10 percent the level of amateur players, suggesting he plays as if on auto-pilot, according to Japanese neurologists.

Brain's dynamic duel underlies win-win choices

16 hours ago

People choosing between two or more equally positive outcomes experience paradoxical feelings of pleasure and anxiety, feelings associated with activity in different regions of the brain, according to research ...

ALS disease is rare, 1st US count finds

16 hours ago

(AP)—The U.S. government has issued its first national estimate for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, confirming the devastating disease is rare.

User comments : 0