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First circuit map of brain's learning and memory center

August 9, 2017
University of Konstanz
A significant development in understanding the brain: Scientists have, for the first time ever described the mushroom body connectome within the brain of fly larvae (Drosophila melanogaster) -- the circuit diagram of nerve cells.

In the past several years, and in close cooperation with the Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia, these neurobiologists used high resolution 3D electron microscopy to reconstruct nerve cells and their individual connections via synapses. The examination of this circuit will be instrumental in guiding future research on how the brain learns new things and then stores these as memories. The research results were published in the 10 August 2017 edition of the journal Nature under the title: "The complete connectome of a learning and memory center in an insect brain."

Katharina Eichler manually recorded all of the approximate four hundred cells and reconstructed every one of the roughly one hundred thousand synapses in a microscopically photographed larval brain. The research carried out by the researchers at the University of Konstanz represents a significant contribution towards the overall aim of the international collaboration project led by Dr. Albert Cardona from the Janelia Research Campus: to create a complete wiring diagram of the entire brain of Drosophila larvae. Towards this end, researchers in more than 20 labs from around the world are collaborating to reconstruct all of the 10,000 nerve cells. With the modelling of the mushroom body, the researchers from Konstanz have reconstructed almost 8,000 cells of this multi-purpose brain structure. In the next two to three years, all of the connections within the insect brain will be mapped out.

"The brain's mushroom body is also its memory centre in which sensory information is collected and memory is created. It is therefore essential for understanding the brain. Not only were we able to completely reconstruct this crucial component of the brain, but we also documented the existence of new circuit connection patterns between individual cells," says Andreas Thum about the successful research being carried out at the University of Konstanz. These new circuit connection patterns are already serving as the basis for additional research projects.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Konstanz. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Katharina Eichler, Feng Li, Ashok Litwin-Kumar, Youngser Park, Ingrid Andrade, Casey M. Schneider-Mizell, Timo Saumweber, Annina Huser, Claire Eschbach, Bertram Gerber, Richard D. Fetter, James W. Truman, Carey E. Priebe, L. F. Abbott, Andreas S. Thum, Marta Zlatic, Albert Cardona. The complete connectome of a learning and memory centre in an insect brain. Nature, 2017; 548 (7666): 175 DOI: 10.1038/nature23455

Cite This Page:

University of Konstanz. "First circuit map of brain's learning and memory center." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2017. <>.
University of Konstanz. (2017, August 9). First circuit map of brain's learning and memory center. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 14, 2024 from
University of Konstanz. "First circuit map of brain's learning and memory center." ScienceDaily. (accessed June 14, 2024).

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