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Neuroscience: Big brain, big data

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    Neuroscience: Big brain, big data
    Esther Landhuis
    Nature 26 January 2017

    As big brain-mapping initiatives go, Taiwan's might seem small. Scientists there are studying the humble fruit fly, reverse-engineering its brain from images of single neurons. Their efforts have produced 3D maps of brain circuitry in stunning detail.

    Researchers need only a computer mouse and web browser to home in on individual cells and zoom back out to intertwined networks of nerve bundles. The wiring diagrams look like colourful threads on a tapestry, and they're clear enough to show which cell clusters control specific behaviours. By stimulating a specific neural circuit, researchers can cue a fly to flap its left wing or swing its head from side to side — feats that roused a late-afternoon crowd in November at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California.

    But even for such a small creature, it has taken the team a full decade to image 60,000 neurons, at a rate of 1 gigabyte per cell, says project leader Ann-Shyn Chiang, a neuroscientist at the National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City, Taiwan — and that's not even half of the nerve cells in the Drosophila brain. Using the same protocol to image the 86 billion neurons in the human brain would take an estimated 17 million years, Chiang reported at the meeting.

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    "Evolution is a tinkerer not an engineer" F.Jacob
    "Without imperfection neither you nor I would exist" Stephen Hawking

  • #2
    Great read Marcel.

    If we weren't as innumerate as humans tend to be (including me) the article would mean more.

    Perhaps the numbers point out why philosophy exists. At least, that's what came to me.
    Barrett L. Dorko