When you're talking about something as complex as the brain, the task isn't any easier if the vocabulary being used is just as complex. An international collaboration of neuroscientists has not only tripled the number of identified brain structures, but created a simple lexicon to talk about them, which will be enormously helpful for future research on brain function and disease.
Nick Strausfeld and Linda Restifo, both professors in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, worked with colleagues in Japan who led the project, and colleagues in Germany and in the UK to produce a comprehensive atlas of neuroanatomical centers and computational centers of the insect brain. In the process, the team identified many previously unknown structures. By providing the research community with a unified system of terminology, they set the stage for a systematic effort to elucidate brain structures and functions that carry over to functions of the human brain.
An article about the work appears in the scientific journal Neuron, regarded by many as one of the flagship publications of neuroscience; the online version includes an 80-page data supplement. The data will be publicly available within 6 months and include hundreds of images and 3-D video animations amounting to an invaluable resource that will enable neuroscientists to work more efficiently, compare their results and obtain more meaningful interpretations.
"This effort provides a three-dimensional road map for describing structures for all insect brains, and enables comparisons with other arthropods," said Strausfeld, director of the UA Center for Insect Science. "It has huge value in describing network relationships between computational centers in the brain."
The project is timely as the U.S. and Europe have embarked on ambitious initiatives President Barack Obama's BRAIN initiative and the European Union's Human Brain Project to produce a dynamic p
|Contact: Daniel Stolte|
University of Arizona