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Rainbow Brain Rows
30 June 2016

Rainbow Brain Rows

Thousands of nerve cells (neurons) waggling around behind our developing eyes somehow connect precisely with specific neurons in the brain. This amazing feat of wiring is challenging to untangle in humans. Thankfully, the nervous system of the fruit fly (partly pictured here) works in a similar way to our own, but is much easier to investigate. On the left, two different types of neuron in the fly’s imaginal disc (its developing eye) have been genetically-modified to glow as green and red blobs. They develop at different rates – each neuron’s age is vital information used to connect it to the correct area of the brain (blue, right). Sequoia, a protein inside each neuron, organises the neurons by age, producing neat curved layers of red and green connections. These layers will eventually 'plug in' to specific brain regions, bringing vision to the fly, and perhaps a glimpse into our own development.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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