Swiss scientists fully decipher visual network of fruit fly brain

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-19 04:07:32|Editor: Zhou Xin
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GENEVA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- A Swiss research team has deciphered the entire visual network of a fruit fly's brain, which, in time, could help reconstruct the information flows in human brains, local media reported on Monday.

Scientists led by Simon Sprecher of the University of Fribourg have succeeded in deciphering the entire visual network of the brain of a fruit fly larva, or drosophila melanogaster, that consists of 130 cells, or about six percent of the entire larval brain.

With some 2,000 cells, the brain of the fruit fly larvae is much smaller than that of an adult drosophila which has 150,000, let alone the human brain with an estimated 80 billion cells.

However, these flies are just suitable for basic brain research due to its greatly simplified nervous system and short generation time, the research team said. Their next phase will be to investigate how this network influences behavior and which cells perceive how and what, for example light or heat.

The long-term goal behind the precise mapping of such nerve-cell networks with their connections is to be able to one day reconstruct the information flows in the fruit fly brain and, ultimately, its human counterpart.

"We still don't know enough about how a brain works," Sprecher said. "Only once the normal functions of this organ have been deciphered can we try to understand what goes wrong with diseases."

The study has been published the journal eLife Sciences.