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The Most Complete Brain Map, Every Single Neuron is Visible

Showing Every Single Neuron in a Fruit Fly's Brain

(Z. Zheng et al./Cell 2018)

Mapping the human brain in detail could open a portion of its riddles, however, our own brains are such incredibly complex organs that we will sit tight a while for that to happen. In any case, researchers just made a critical stride towards that objective.

A group has quite recently made a superior quality, a 3D picture of something somewhat littler – the brain of an organic product fly. Demonstrating each and every one of the brain’s 100,000 neurons, it’s the most total brain map at any point made.

Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) brains are just the extent of a poppy seed yet at the same time pack in a mind-blowing measure of many-sided quality: the work included joining around 21 million pictures taken crosswise over in excess of 7,000 brain cuts.

What has risen at the opposite end is an incredibly definite picture that researchers can zoom into at the nanoscale, and take after individual neuron pathways.

It’s trusted that the map will give us a vastly improved comprehension of how brains and nerve cells work – both in organic product flies and individuals. Simply look at all the insane ways those neurons are associated:

Credit: Z. Zheng et al./Cell 2018

“The entire fly brain has never been imaged before at this resolution that lets you see connections between neurons. Any time you look at images with higher resolution and more completeness, you’re going to discover new things.” says one of the team, neuroscientist Davi Bock from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Maryland.

How did they produce the map?

The researchers used a technique called serial section transmission electron microscopy. First, the team loaded the cells’ membranes with heavy metals, marking the outlines of the neurons and the synapses that connect them. Next, beams of electrons were shot through the brain. These electrons which get scattered and reflected when they hit metal – in the same way, that X-rays are blocked when they hit bone.

The extra ingredients here were two high-speed cameras and two custom-built systems to make the process of collating millions of images much quicker than normal. An entire brain slice could be produced in under seven minutes, around five times faster than it would take with earlier setups.

Next came the process of mapping all of the 100,000 neurons in the fruit fly brain, which will take some time.

How helpful is this Brain map?

The map is already leading to discoveries, though – the team traced the path of a group of neurons to a part of the brain involved in memory and learning, known as the olfactory projection neurons.

They found neurons and an information pathway that hasn’t been identified before now, which could help them understand how fruit flies learn.

Same technique for human brains too?

There are about a million times more neurons in a human brain, so the processes are going to have to be scaled up significantly – over years – before that happens.

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