Connectomes: Mapping the mind of a fly

Scientists have created the most detailed map of the fruit fly brain to date, identifying over 25,000 neurons and 20 million synapses.
1 figure


The connectome of a fruit fly.

(A) Scheffer et al. have used machine learning to reconstruct half of the fruit fly brain (area shown in teal), providing the most comprehensive connectome of any animal to date. (B) The different regions in the brain were labelled according to known brain maps. The fly brain can be subdivided based on tracts of neuronal branches and large tangles called neuropils. Any given neuron might innervate several neuropils, and neurons are often identified by the neuropils they make synapses with. (C) Neuropils of the odor processing center (the antennal lobe AL, the calyx CA and the lateral horn LH) and the neurons (yellow) that connect them. (D) The connectome can differentiate neurons into separate types that would have been difficult to distinguish using light microscopy due to their similar anatomy. (E) The connectome contains a complete list of all neurons and their synapses, making it possible to search for specific neurons and their connections. For example, the database shows that a neuron from a region called the mushroom body (shown in tan) connects to two other neurons in this neuropil (shown in magenta and teal).

Image credit: Figure 1A–D adapted from Scheffer et al., 2020 (CC BY 4.0), Figure 1E obtained from the online portal Neuprint (CC0).

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  1. Jason Pipkin
Connectomes: Mapping the mind of a fly
eLife 9:e62451.