Google and the Janelia Research Campus teamed up to publish the largest, high-resolution map of brain connectivity to date. The 3D model contains 25,000 fruit fly neurons across various cell types and regions of the brain. The mapping was possible only after the researchers cut the fruit fly’s brain into slices that were 20-microns thin. The slices were then individually images with electron streams from a scanning electron microscope. Those separate images were then stitched together to form the final map.
The final map has very few disruptions due to the perfection in this technique, and it is also possible to trace the neuron connections from one to another.
The researchers from Google and the Janelia Research Campus have made the high-resolution image data publicly available. There are also research papers written by the team, explaining more in-depth about how this feat was achieved.
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Application of fruit fly brain mapping
The data itself doesn’t have too much application except helping us understand the fruit fly’s brain functionality better. Though this map represents just 25% of the fruit fly’s 100,000 neurons, it will still provide valuable insight.
The most important lesson learned from this research is the method of slicing the brain into thin pieces for mapping. This type of technique could possibly help us map even larger brains with more neurons. We may even possibly be able to map the human brain’s 86 billion neurons one day if we continue to develop on this technology.
Learn more about the research at the Janelia Research Campus website.
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