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Top Story

Mapping the brain, neuron by neuron

A Johns Hopkins University mathematician and computer scientist joined an international team of neuroscientists to create a complete map of the learning and memory center of the fruit fly larva brain, an early step toward mapping how all animal brains work. The part of the fruit fly larva brain used in the study corresponds roughly to the cerebral cortex in mammals. The project could serve as a guide as scientists work their way up the animal kingdom and eventually chart connections among neurons in the brains of mammals. The adult fruit fly brain is comprised of roughly 100,000 neurons and the leap in complexity to mammals is far greater still. At the top of the chain, the human brain contains 86 billion to 100 billion neurons.

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