Discover the first brain map of an insect made by scientists

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge have published a study that looks into the mechanisms of an insect’s brain. The team mapped the organ of this animal and detailed the connections of neurons and their functions.

It took more than 12 years of studies for this research to be published in the journal Science. The work was hard precisely because analyze 3,016 neurons and 548,000 synapses between them. A specimen of the organ needed to be sliced ​​and a high-resolution transmission electron microscope was used.

Other similar studies date back to the 1970s and took about 14 years to complete. The study of a roundworm organ was even recognized by the Nobel Prize. Flies, mice and also human brains have already been analyzed, but only a part of them.

The novelty of this study is precisely the organ analysis of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) in its entirety. And this can bring advances in the analysis of human behavior, even with the enormous distance between the two species. This is because there are similarities in learning behaviors and also in decision-making.

It is noteworthy that the basis of operation of all brains is similar. They will have networks of neurons that process sensory information, assimilate, decide and learn.

In terms of evolution, food choices and escape strategies are also essential. Thus, the basic behaviors, point out the scientists in this research, will most likely be shared between species.

In any case, this study is a first full contact with the central organ of a species and will serve as a basis for many other studies in beings with more complex activities.

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