These visual maps consist of millions of nerve cell contacts that need to be wired correctly during development in order for the adult animal to see normally. It is generally thought that the complexity of visual maps, like other brain regions, cannot only be genetically programmed but requires activity by neurons or nerve cells in the brain.
In a new study published in the journal Current Biology, Drs. P. Robin Hiesinger, R. Grace Zhai and co-workers in the laboratory of Dr. Hugo Bellen, director of the Program in Developmental Biology at Baylor College of Medicine, found that this neuronal activity is not required for the formation of the visual map in Drosophila melanogaster, the most common form of fruit fly used in laboratories around the world.
"There is a genetic component (to formation of the vertebrate visual system)," said Bellen, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "The neurons in vertebrates are born and are genetically programmed to project into a certain brain region. This is followed by a dynamic phase where neuronal activity refines the visual map. In contrast, in flies the system seems to be completely hard-wired and only rely on genetic inputs."
"The most obvious difference between the insect and vertebrate brain is their size and the number of neurons and connections that need to be made. A possible explanation for the findings is that the fruit fly has many fewer neurons than vertebrates, and the system can therefore just rely on the genetic components in flies," said Bellen.
"In vertebrates, complexity is added because of the challenge of millions of neurons having to make billions of precise connections. You have to work with a gross topological map first, and neuronal activity refines this map later," he said.
The study adds to an ongoing debate about the extent to which brain wiring can be genetically programmed.
"We have to be careful when we interpret these results in light of the complexity of the human brain," said Bellen.
However, he said, "It is astonishing though how only a few thousand genes can program billions of synaptic connections."
Ross Tomlin | EurekAlert!
Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News