Summary of The Brain-Circuit Challenge

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Sometimes, in response to a puff of air aimed at its face, a fruit fly larva will scrunch its head back. Other times, its head will turn to the side. Why does it sometimes scrunch? Why, at other times, does it turn the other cheek? These may sound like useless questions, but top neuroscientists are fascinated by the answers. Mapping the brain circuitry of a humble fruit fly larva is a step toward understanding how neurons create connections, send signals and ultimately produce consciousness. getAbstract recommends this article to readers fascinated by the cutting edge of neuroscience.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How researchers approach the intimidating task of mapping brain circuits,
  • What a connectome is and why researchers spend thousands of hours to make them, and
  • How researchers are discovering which brain circuits lead to specific behaviors.
 

About the Author

Kerri Smith is a features editor and writer for Nature. She also presented and produced the Nature Podcast for 11 years.

 

Summary

Mapping the human brain’s 86 million neurons is a gargantuan task.

The human brain has 86 million neurons wired in mysterious clusters and tangles. Mapping these networks with current technology is unthinkable; even the brain of a mouse would produce unknown petabytes of data and take hundreds of years of meticulous human labor to map. At some point, this process might be automated, but as of yet, algorithms make too many mistakes to be trusted.


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