Connectome of the fly visual circuitry

Microscopy (Oxf). 2015 Feb;64(1):37-44. doi: 10.1093/jmicro/dfu102. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Recent powerful tools for reconstructing connectomes using electron microscopy (EM) have made outstanding contributions to the field of neuroscience. As a prime example, the detection of visual motion is a classic problem of neural computation, yet our understanding of the exact mechanism has been frustrated by our incomplete knowledge of the relevant neurons and synapses. Recent connectomic studies have successfully identified the concrete neuronal circuit in the fly's visual system that computes the motion signals. This identification was greatly aided by the comprehensiveness of the EM reconstruction. Compared with light microscopy, which gives estimated connections from arbor overlap, EM gives unequivocal connections with precise synaptic counts. This paper reviews the recent study of connectomics in a brain of the fruit fly Drosophila and highlights how connectomes can provide a foundation for understanding the mechanism of neuronal functions by identifying the underlying neural circuits.

Keywords: EM reconstruction; insect vision; medulla; motion detection; neural computation; synaptic circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Drosophila / anatomy & histology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*