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How a Fly Brain Detects Motion

Thu, 08/08/2013 - 1:00pm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Flyswatter spotter: A reconstruction of 379 neurons involved in motion detection in the fruit fly.

One of the largest connectomes published to date reveals how brains can detect motion.

Researchers at the Howard Hughes Institute’s Janelia Farm Research campus and their collaborators report in Nature on Wednesday that they were able to reconstruct the shapes and interconnections of neurons within a small part of the fly brain that is responsible for detecting visual motion.

By mapping the brain structure in such detail, the researchers gained new insight into how the brain detects movement. Their work is the latest example of many ongoing efforts in neuroscience to understand how the brain functions by building intricate diagrams of neuronal connections, or connectomes (see “Connectomics”).

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