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How can the fruit fly help with brain research?

An image of the human brain on which all neurons and the connections between them are visible has not yet been reached. Scientists have now made steps towards this goal, using the fruit fly.

Brain image fruit fly

A team of scientists has made a high-resolution 3D image of a fruit fly. All 100,000 neurons in the brain are depicted. This makes it the most complete brain image ever made.

What do scientists have on a miniscule card of the brain of a fruit fly? A lot of! Although the brain of a fruit fly is as small as a poppy seed, it is extremely complex. The image is a combination of 21 million mini-images of more than 7000 pieces of the brain.

The gain for scientists is that they can zoom in on the nanoscale to follow the paths of neurons. The purpose of the brain image is to gain more insight into how the human brain and nerve cells work.

New information

The brain image of the fruit fly has already paid off. The scientists have found a new path from a group of neurons to the part of the brain that is involved in learning and memory. This helps to explain how fruit flies learn. For example, they know which places are dangerous or not.

Millions of neurons are left in the human brain. The process should be considerably scaled up for this, and that can take years.

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