Scientists from Google and the Janelia Research Campus have published the largest ever high-resolution map of a brain: the hemibrain connectome.
On Wednesday, the "largest synaptic-level connectome ever reconstructed" -- created by scientists at Google and the Janelia Research Campus -- was published for the public to explore. The map of brain connections, the hemibrain connectome, outlines none other than that of a fly.
Despite this insect's small size, this map contains about 25,000 neurons grouped into thousands of cell type categories which span multiple regions of the brain.
To do this, a fly's brain was cut into very fine slices using a hot knife. Each section was then placed under an electron microscope and the resulting images were stitched back together to create a 3D rendering of the brain. During this process, the scientists identified over 4,000 types of neurons.
The data is now available for anyone to download. While the neuron construction of a fly's brain may appear to be an unproportionally large feat for such a small insect, it is the largest high-resolution map to date and paves the way for mapping out the brains of larger animals and eventually humans.