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Mushroom Bodies

Insight into the evolution of invertebrate brain structures involved in learning and memory

17 April 2021

Mushroom Bodies

A key question that neuroscience seeks to answer is how brain cells work together to help us interpret and interact with our ever-changing environment. Processes like these are easier to study in the less complex brains of small organisms. Mushroom bodies – dense arrangements of neuron fibres – in the insect and invertebrate brain help these organisms to learn and remember the smells, sights, and sounds that they encounter. Scientists have studied these structures to learn more about the circuits and processes that underly memory, for example how mushroom bodies help these organisms to remember certain places and relationships between different items. This image is of a crab mushroom body from recent research into how evolution may have shaped these structures differently in some species depending on their environmental demands. Studies like these on non-human brain anatomy reveal key pieces of information about the types of neural circuits that allow us to interact with our world.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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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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