The First Complete Map of an Insect Brain

A team led by John Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge have completed the most expansive map of a brain to date. The diagram, which traces every neuron and connection of a larval fruit fly (whose biology is comparable with humans), took 12 years to map and is expected to inform future brain research. To survey the brain, scientists sliced it into hundreds and thousands of tissue samples, imaging each one to reconstruct an accurate portrait—a process which takes about a day per neuron. Afterward, the team spent three years developing code (which is available for public use) that can analyze the brain’s connectivity. “If we want to understand who we are and how we think, part of that is understanding the mechanism of thought,” says Joshua T Vogelstein, a Johns Hopkins biomedical engineer and one of the authors of the study. “And the key to that is knowing how neurons connect with each other.” Learn more at The Hub.

Image courtesy of John Hopkins University/University of Cambridge