A huge team of scientists from the UK, the US and also Germany completed the largest and most complex brain map ever created, describing each and every neural link in the brain of a larval fruit fly, after 12 years of research.
Even though it’s not close to the size as well as sophistication of the human brain, it nevertheless maintains 548,000 connections between a total of 3,016 neurons.
Mapping identifies the different types of neurons as well as their pathways, such as interactions between the two sides of the brain and between the brain and also the ventral nerve cord. Researchers now realize the way the motions of indicators from neuron to neuron lead to learning and behavior.
“If we want to understand who we’re and the way we believe, part of that is learning the mechanism of thought,” says Joshua T. Vogelstein, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins Faculty.
“And the key to that is learning how neurons communicate with each and every other.”
For creating the multi-functional chart known as a connectome, researchers used a high-resolution electron microscope to scan thousands of slices of the brain of an infant fruit fly. Then they place the photos collectively and added them to the data they had already collected, meticulously marking every connection between neurons.
That includes both cells that speak with one another in each one half of the brain and those who talk between the two hemispheres, which makes it possible to learn interactions in depth across the human brain.
The hemispheres of the brain possess important and unique features, but how they integrate info from each side and use it for complex behavior and cognition is not also understood.
“The way the brain circuit is designed impacts the calculations that the brain is able to do,” the neuroscientist Marta Zlatic of the Faculty of Cambridge says.
“up till this point, we haven’t seen the structure of any brain apart from the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, the tadpole of a low chordate as well as the larva of a marine annelid, all of which happen to have several hundred neurons,” he said.
Recently, scientists have made significant improvement in charting the human brain and tracked neural activity in mice. However, the main focus has been on certain regions as well as the current technology is still not advanced enough to complete a connectome for big animals such as humans.
“All brains are the same — they’re a number of networks of interconnected neurons, and most brains of all species need to perform a number of complicated behaviors,’ Zlatic believed. Many of them need to process sensory information, learn, pick actions, navigate their surroundings, select meals, recognise their conspecifics, escape from predators, and so on.
Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) are a well – liked medical research model due to their simple features, their complex but compact brains and since they have numerous biological similarities with humans.
Interestingly, the linking structures witnessed by the researchers were driven to be the best repeated among the ingoing and outgoing neurons in the system of the brain that enables us to study as well as remember what we’ve discovered.
Additionally they found that some of the identified features for machine learning worked out in a similar fashion in several computer networks.
Vogelstein said: “What we learned about the code for fruit flies will have implications for the code for humans. “That’s what we want to understand – how you can write a program which results in a human brain network,” he said.
The team recommends the next thing will be to learn more concerning the neural structure involved in learning and decision making, and also to study the activity of the whole connectome while the insect is energetic.
The initial effort to map a mind was a 14-year study by C. elegans, that began in the 1970s. It produced an incomplete map of the mind of the roundworm and eventually made the researchers a Nobel Prize.
“this is actually the very first brain connectome, 50 years back. “It’s a flag in the sand which we could do this,” Vogelstein said.
“Everything has been working up to this,” she stated.
The research has been published in the journal Science.