It Took 1700 Hours to Map a Fly’s Brain

Image: Mizutani et al/Arxiv. A team of researchers from Tokai University in Japan recently produced the first 3D model of a fruit fly’s neuronal network. The team’s work is an important step forward for neuroscience insofar as it has overcome the limitations of previous brain imaging techniques by providing a much higher resolution image of the brain’s neural network, capable of depicting the shape and position of roughly 100,000 neurons. As detailed in a paper published earlier this month on arxiv, the researchers were able to accomplish this by repurposing an imaging technique usually used for creating 3D models of complex molecules. Known as x-ray crystallography, this technique works by first crystallizing a purified sample of the molecule being studied. It is then bombarded with x-rays and the x-ray diffraction…

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