The scientists from Johns Hopkins and Cambridge universities published an article in the Science magazine about their groundbreaking project which could revolutionize the neuroscience field. What is the discovery that caused such a flurry in the scientific community?
It sounds simple- the scientists mapped out the brain of a fruit fly. However, what makes this discovery truly astonishing is that they managed to include each and every neuron and synapse in their connectome (as we call a map of the brain) in contrast to the research that had been done previously and focused only on a tiny portion of the brain. This connectome includes over 0.5 million synapses between over 3,000 neurons. You might be wondering what the process looked like. Well, the scientists had to very thinly slice the brain of the fruit fly and carefully research each part of it and then connect all the parts together to create the map that you can see above this article. As you can expect, it was an extremely consuming process which also explains why it will be a long time before we can create full connectomes for more complex species.
Why are we so excited about the map of the fly’s brain? Thanks to that connectome, we can investigate the principles of neural connection and communication but also it’s the first step to make a complex map of the human brain which is the ultimate goal of this research.
March 9, Jill Rosen / Published, and 2023. “Scientists Complete First Map of an Insect Brain.” The Hub, 9 Mar. 2023, hub.jhu.edu/2023/03/09/scientists-complete-first-map-of-an-insect-brain/.
Massey, Nina. “Scientists Complete First Map of an Insect Brain.” The Independent, 10 Mar. 2023, www.independent.co.uk/news/science/insect-brain-first-map-complete-b2297867.html.