Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hard-wiring The Fruit Fly's Visual System

Date:
September 23, 2006
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
It is generally thought that the part of the brain in vertebrates that uses nerve cells to represent the outside world cannot only be genetically programmed but also requires activity by neurons or nerve cells in the brain. However, a study in fruit flies shows that this neuronal activity is not required for the formation of such visual maps.

Both vertebrate and fruit fly have so-called visual maps in the brain that represent the world they see. 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.

Related Articles


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."

Others who participated in this research include Drs. Yi Zhou, Tong-Wey Koh, Sunil Q. Mehta, Karen L. Schulze, Yu Cao and Patrik Verstreken, all of BCM; Thomas R. Clandin of Stanford University; Karl-Friedrich Fischbach of the University of Freiburg in Germany; and Ian A. Meinertzhagen at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Hiesinger, who is first author, is now with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Funding for this research comes from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "Hard-wiring The Fruit Fly's Visual System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920192529.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2006, September 23). Hard-wiring The Fruit Fly's Visual System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920192529.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "Hard-wiring The Fruit Fly's Visual System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920192529.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Phoenix hospital is experimenting with a faster way to test much needed medications for deadly brain tumors. Patients get a single dose of a potential drug, and hours later have their tumor removed to see if the drug had any affect. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins