For hundreds of years scientists have tried to map the human brain, figuring out which bits do what. While they’ve made great progress in tracking down the parts responsible for vision, movement and other tasks, we still know little about how our brains store and retrieve memories. To keep things simple, researchers have turned to the fruit fly, Drosophila. Although they’re hardly insect Einsteins, fruit flies can still remember a few things and even be trained to do easy tasks, storing this information in specialised nerve cells in an area of the brain called the mushroom body. These images show the fly brain (purple), with nerve cells wiring into the mushroom bodies highlighted with a fluorescent green molecule. Studying the activity of these cells as the flies learn reveals that memories are consolidated in several different parts of the brain at once, and also retrieved together at a later date.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.