Researchers have accomplished something incredibly fascinating: they have totally mapped the brain of a fruit fly larval. It is a significant advance in neuroscience since it provides a thorough understanding of the 3,016 neurons and 548,000 connections that make up the fly’s brain.
Perhaps more remarkable about this achievement is how closely the brain resembles artificial intelligence neural networks. These kinds of networks have allowed AI to accurately mimic the evolution of humans.
The researchers’ work that was published in the journal Science included a detailed image of the fly brain map, which is not shown in this story. Researchers mapped the many neurons and synapses that flow through the larval fly’s brain over a 12-year period to develop it. The fly’s brain lobes and nerve cord are included in this map, which neuroscientists refer to as a connectome.
This map might be viewed by many as a significant change in neuroscience. This is due to the theory that many brain structures and pathways remain relatively conserved as animals and insects develop. Thus it is assumed that the fly’s brain will have a similar structure as it develops from a tiny, writhing maggot into a fully developed fruit fly. Moreover, this might apply to mice, other insects, and possibly people.
This achievement goes beyond neuroscience though, as some think it may contribute to the development of cutting-edge AI neural networks that replicate the more accurate cognitive processes of insects and animals. With this comprehensive map of a fly’s brain, however, we know exactly where everything is. Previously, scientists just had generalized assumptions about the locations of the various components of an animal’s brain.
Imagine yourself entering a small town where you have no idea where everything is. Yet with the map in hand, we can now locate each and every tiny grocery store, shop, and eatery with ease. We now have a better knowledge of how the entire larval fruit fly brain functions because to this finding and the diligent work these researchers put out to map the fly’s brain completely.