Google unveils largest high-resolution map of brain connectivity
The 3D model traces 20 million synapses that connect approximately 25,000 neurons in the brain of a fruit fly.Updated: Jan 23, 2020 19:29 IST
Search giant 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 3D model traces 20 million synapses that connect approximately 25,000 neurons in the brain of a fruit fly.
The map can be extremely useful for scientists who are trying to understand fruit flies or brain functionality. This map was made after sections of the fly’s brain was cut into ultra-thin slices and were scanned with electron streams through an electronic microscope and then were stitched back together.
The 3D map only represents a quarter of the 100,000 neurons that are present in a general fruit fly. It should be taken in consideration that a fruit fly’s brain has 1,00,000 neurons, while the brain of a human has around 86 billion neurons.
Google said the project involved a considerable amount of human labour to check the software’s functionality. Scientists from Janelia Research Campus spent 2 years to verify each and every route of 20 million chemical synapses in the map using virtual reality headsets and custom 3D editing software.
Gerry Rubin, vice president of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and executive director of Janelia, said the 3D map of the fruit fly is an important step in understanding how the brain works. He asserts that the advancement of technology has played an integral role in this project.
“High-powered customized microscopes, a team of dedicated neural proofreaders, data analysts, and partnership with Google have sped up the process,” Rubin added.
The researchers, he claimed, have traced each and every neuron of the concerned portion of a fruit fly’s brain.
The map encompasses 25,000 neurons, by volume, but the impact of it is outsized. That part of the brain which has been used for the research controls functions like learning, smell, memory, and navigation.