Google and Janelia Research Campus publish largest high-res map of brain

Google and Virginia-based Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have come up with the largest high-resolution map of brain connectivity in any animal.

The map offers a 3D model of 25,000 fruit fly neurons over a large range of cells and over multiple brain regions. The team achieved the feat by cutting sections of the fly's brain into ultra-thin (20-micron) slices, imaging those pieces with electron streams from a scanning electron microscope and stitching them back together.

Scientists have created the most detailed 3D map of an organism brain to date.

On Wednesday, the "largest synaptic-level connectome ever reconstructed" - created by scientists at Google and the Janelia Research Campus - was published for the public to explore.

The point of such maps is to reveal something about how specific physical connections in the brain are linked to distinct behaviors. Scientists found over 4,000 different types of neurons, including those involved in the fly's circadian rhythm - or internal clock - that might help researchers learn a bit more about how the insect sleeps, according to the publicly released data.

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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. This represents a significant milestone in brain mapping.

The brain map itself won't accomplish a whole lot.

Now, although the brain can not accomplish a lot and only covers a portion of the fruit fly's brain, it does act as a large set of data for researchers and scientists wanting to get more insight around fruit flies and the way brain functions.

The new map was published on January 21 in the database BioRxiv, and it has not yet been peer reviewed.

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