First 3-D Map of a Fruit Fly’s Brain Network


The first step to understanding brain function is to determine the brain’s network structure. An important goal in neuroscience is to understand the structure of links between neurons that make up the brain: in other words, to build an accurate 3-D map of the brain’s neural network.

As MIT Technology Review tells it, the scientists had to “pickle a fly brain in silver dye, bombard it with x-rays and then measure the way the x-rays are scattered in various directions.” The silver dye is the key here because when it’s attacked with x-rays, it illustrates neural pathways. It’s a process called x-ray tomography.

The quantitative description of the brain network provides a basis for structural and statistical analyses of the Drosophila brain. The challenge is to establish a methodology for reconstructing the brain network in a higher-resolution image, leading to a comprehensive understanding of the brain structure.

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