Google’s collaborates with Janelia Research to map a fruit fly’s brain using electron microscopy.
The project aims to create a detailed 3D map of the brain’s neural connections, providing insight into the brain’s function and behavior.
The research could also have implications for the development of AI and machine learning
- Google is collaborating with the Janelia Research Campus to map the connectome of a fruit fly’s brain using electron microscopy.
- The project aims to create a detailed 3D map of the brain’s neural connections, providing insight into the brain’s function and behavior.
- The research could have implications for the development of AI and machine learning, as well as for understanding neurological disorders.
- The project is known as the Hemibrain Connectome, and it is one of the largest projects of its kind.
- The team hopes to eventually map the connectomes of other animals, including humans.
- The first step in creating the map was to slice sections of fruit fly brain into pieces just 20 microns thick, roughly a third the width of a human hair. Fruit flies are a common subject in connectomics as they have relatively simple brains about the size of a poppy seed but display complex behaviors like courtship dances.
- These slices of brain are then imaged by bombarding them with streams of electrons from a scanning electron microscope. The resulting data comprises some 50 trillion 3D pixels, or voxels, which are processed using an algorithm that traces the pathways of each cell.
- The company says it took two years and hundreds of thousands of hours for scientists at Janelia to “proofread” the 3D map, verifying the route of each of the 20 million chemical synapses using virtual reality headsets and custom 3D editing software.
- Even then, the resulting map only covers a portion of the fruit fly’s brain, known as the hemibrain. In total, a fruit fly’s brain contains 100,000 neurons, while a human brain has roughly 86 billion. That suggests how far we are from creating a full connectome of our own neural pathways.
- Google and the FlyEM team have made the data they collected available for anyone to view and download. The group has also published a pre-print paper describing their methodology,