The brain's synaptic networks endow an animal with powerfully adaptive biological behavior. Maps of such synaptic circuits densely reconstructed in those model brains that can be examined and manipulated by genetic means offer the best prospect for understanding the underlying biological bases of behavior. That prospect is now technologically feasible and a scientifically enabling possibility in neurobiology, much as genomics has been in molecular biology and genetics. In Drosophila, two major advances are in electron microscopic technology, using focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) milling to capture and align digital images, and in computer-aided reconstruction of neuron morphologies. The last decade has witnessed enormous progress in detailed knowledge of the actual synaptic circuits formed by real neurons. Advances in various brain regions that heralded identification of the motion-sensing circuits in the optic lobe are now extending to other brain regions, with the prospect of encompassing the fly's entire nervous system, both brain and ventral nerve cord.
Keywords: FIB-SEM; focused ion beam milling; proofreading; segmentation.