16.8 C
Thursday, September 21, 2023
NewsScientists complete first map of an insect brain

Scientists complete first map of an insect brain

DISCLAIMER: Information and opinions reproduced in the articles are the ones of those stating them and it is their own responsibility. Publication in The European Times does not automatically means endorsement of the view, but the right to express it.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATIONS: All articles in this site are published in English. The translated versions are done through an automated process known as neural translations. If in doubt, always refer to the original article. Thank you for understanding.

The European Times News aims to cover news that matter to increase the awareness of citizens all around geographical Europe.

More from the author

Persecuted christians - Conference at the European Parliament about the persecution of Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa (Credit: MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen)

Break the silence on persecuted Christians

MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen held a conference and exhibition at the European Parliament to denounce the silence surrounding the suffering of persecuted Christians worldwide. The EU must take stronger action against violations of freedom of religion, especially in Africa where lives are lost due to this silence.

Researchers have completed the most advanced brain map to date, that of an insect, a landmark achievement in neuroscience that brings scientists closer to true understanding of the mechanism of thought.

A diagram depicting brain connectivity, where neurons are represented as points. Image credit: Johns Hopkins University/University of Cambridge

The team, led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge, produced a detailed diagram, or connectome, tracing every neural connection in the brain of a larval fruit fly, an archetypal scientific model with brains comparable to humans.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-supported work, likely to underpin future brain research and to inspire new machine learning architectures, appears in the journal Science.

Mapping fruit fly brain

“If we want to understand who we are and how we think, part of that is understanding the mechanism of thought,” said senior author Joshua Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins. “And the key to that is knowing how neurons connect with each other.”

The team’s connectome of a fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is the most complete as well as the most expansive map of an entire insect brain ever completed. It includes 3,016 neurons and every connection between them: 548,000. Vogelstein said that “everything has been working up to this.”

Even with the best modern technology, mapping whole brains is difficult and extremely time-consuming. Getting a complete cellular-level picture of a brain requires slicing the brain into hundreds or thousands of individual tissue samples, all of which have to be imaged with electron microscopes before the painstaking process of reconstructing all those pieces, neuron by neuron, into a full, accurate portrait of a brain.

The researchers chose the fruit fly larva because, for an insect, the species shares much of its fundamental biology with humans, including a comparable genetic foundation. It also has rich learning and decision-making behaviors, making it a useful model organism in neuroscience. And for practical purposes, its relatively compact brain can be imaged and its circuits reconstructed in a reasonable timeframe.

The team charted every neuron and every connection, and categorized each neuron by the role it plays in the brain. They found that the brain’s busiest circuits were those that led to and away from neurons of the learning center.

The methods developed are applicable to any brain connectome project, and their code is available to whomever attempts to map an even larger animal brain, Vogelstein said, adding that despite the challenges, scientists are expected to take on the mouse, possibly within the next decade.

“Having connectomes, such as the fly brain connectome developed here, for diverse organisms will open the brain up to everyone — schoolchildren, citizen scientists, researchers and others curious about the inner workings of the brain,” said Edda Thiels, a program director in NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure.

Source: NSF

Source link

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Must read

Latest articles

- Advertisement -