Jul 162017
 

Whole-brain maps of the fruit fly reveal neurons involved in certain behaviors, such as (clockwise from top left) walking, stopping, jumping, and backing up. Colors represent the degree of correlation between groups of neurons and specific behaviors, from blue (lower correlation) to red (higher correlation). Credit: Robie et al./Cell 2017

Scientists at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus created comprehensive brain maps linking different groups of neurons to specific behaviors, using a machine-learning program that annotated more than 225 days of videos of flies – a feat that would have taken humans some 3,800 years.

A smart computer program named JAABA has helped scientists create a brain-wide atlas of fruit fly behavior.

The machine-learning program tracked the position and cataloged the behaviors of 400,000 fruit flies, in more than 225 days of video footage, helping researchers match specific behaviors to different groups of neurons.

“We wanted to understand what neurons are doing at the cellular level,” says Janelia Group Leader Kristin Branson. She and colleagues reported the work July 13 in the journal Cell.

Their results are the most comprehensive neural maps of behavior yet created. Such detailed maps could give researchers a starting point for tracing the neural circuitry flies use to produce specific behaviors, such as jumping or wing grooming, Branson says. Understanding the inner workings of the fly brain could even offer insight into the neural basis of human behavior, she says.

Using machine-vision and learning programs, Janelia scientists created maps that show which neurons control specific behaviors in the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Credit: Robie et al./Cell 2017

Though the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is only about the size of a poppy seed, it comprises roughly 100,000 neurons which interact in complex circuits to control an extensive array of behaviors.

“Flies do all the things that an organism needs to do in the world,” says study coauthor Alice Robie, a research scientist at Janelia. “They have to find food, they have to escape from predators, they have to find a mate, they have to reproduce.” All those actions, she says, involve different behaviors for interacting with the environment.

Scientists have identified some of the neurons at work in courtship, say, or chasing, but no one has tackled the entire brain all at once. Branson’s team took a brain-wide approach for finding neurons involved in a suite of 14 behaviors, including wing flicking, crab walking, and attempted copulation.

The team studied 2,204 populations of flies, part of a collection developed at Janelia called the GAL4 Fly Lines. The flies are genetically engineered to crank up the activity of certain neurons. Previous imaging work, Janelia’s FlyLight Project, identified where in the brain these neurons resided – so researchers already had an anatomical map of the neurons targeted in each group of flies. But researchers didn’t know what role these neurons played in behavior.

Dialing up the neurons’ activity in one type of flies, for example, made them huddle together when placed in a shallow dish, says lab technician Jonathan Hirokawa, now a mechatronics engineer at Rockefeller University in New York City. Other types of flies acted even more bizarrely, he recalls. “Sometimes you’d get flies that would all turn in circles, or all follow one another like they were in a conga line.”

These fruit flies have been genetically engineered to crank up the activity of certain neurons, which alters their behavior: They’re more likely to touch one another than normal. A machine-learning program tracks the flies’ movement and behavior. Black lines indicate the flies’ paths and red indicates that flies are touching. Credit: Kristin Branson

From these behavioral quirks, researchers could piece together the cell types involved in walking or backing up, for example. The researchers tackled the problem in an automated fashion, Robie says. Using videos of flies, Robie taught the machine-vision and learning program JAABA, Janelia Automatic Animal Behavior Annotator, how to recognize specific behaviors. Then Branson’s team put JAABA to work watching and labeling behaviors in videos of the 2,204 different fly groups – a feat that would have taken humans some 3,800 years.

In addition to matching cell types to behaviors, the researchers identified something entirely new: the nerve cells linked to female chase behavior. “There have been some reports of female aggression, but not females chasing other flies,” Robie says.

Inside the center of the female fruit fly brain, two small regions (red) play a role in aggression. Credit: Robie et al./Cell 2017

That finding stands out, Branson says, but it’s just one of thousands of results yielded by their study. “With these big datasets, we’ve been trying to figure out how you actually share the information,” she says. Their solution is a program called BABAM, or the Browsable Atlas of Behavior Anatomy Maps. With BABAM, scientists can explore the new data, create maps that link behavior to fly brain anatomy, and search for fly groups associated with certain behaviors.

Branson and Robie say the new results highlight the advantages of blending different scientific disciplines at Janelia. “This is what happens when you put biologists and computer scientists together,” Robie says.

Learn more: Artificial Intelligence Helps Build Brain Atlas of Fly Behavior

 

The Latest on: Brain maps
  • Supercomputing Is Allowing Us to Map Brain Function at the Deepest Levels
    on September 15, 2017 at 8:18 am

    A pair of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne Labs want to map all the neurons and connections in the human brain. To make this happen, they're enlisting the help of an advanced supercomputer. Humanity has so much to gain from a map ... […]

  • Scientists Using Intel-Cray ‘Theta’ Supercomputer to Map Brain Function
    on September 14, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Sept. 11, 2017 — A neuroscientist and a computational scientist walk into a synchrotron facility to study a mouse brain… Sounds like a great set-up for a comedy bit, but there is no punchline. The result is cutting-edge science that can only be ... […]

  • Using Artificial Intelligence to Map the Brain’s Wiring
    on September 11, 2017 at 8:34 am

    In this slice of brain tissue from the MICrONS reconstructed dataset, each neuron is assigned a unique color. The final three-dimensional reconstruction is made up of 1,000 two-dimensional slices like this one. Credit: Seung Lab In July, neuroscientist ... […]

  • BABILab at Bionics Institute to map baby brains for hearing clues
    on September 11, 2017 at 4:00 am

    NEW brain mapping will test whether cochlear implants and hearing aids are helping hearing-impaired babies’ language centres to develop. The scans will provide an objective test of hearing for children too young to explain what they can hear. BABILab, ... […]

  • Dogs Have Feelings—Here's How We Know
    on September 8, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    He managed to map their brains as they responded to different stimuli and ... When we did that, we were able to observe activity in the reward pathways of her brain indicating that the technique worked. Encouraged by our success with Callie, we put out ... […]

  • An xQTL map integrates the genetic architecture of the human brain's transcriptome and epigenome
    on September 8, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Bioinformatics is the application of computer software and hardware to the management of biological data to create useful information. Computers are used to gather, store, analyze and integrate biological and genetic information which can then be applied.. […]

  • Hidden deep in the brain, a map that guides animals' movements
    on September 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

    New research has revealed that deep in the brain, in a structure called striatum, all possible movements that an animal can do are represented in a map of neural activity. If we think of neural activity as the coordinates of this map, then similar ... […]

  • "Movement Maps" Found Deep inside Brain
    on August 30, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Voluntary movements are one of the brain’s main “outputs,” yet science still knows very little about how networks of neurons plan, initiate and execute them. Now, researchers from Columbia University and the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in ... […]

via Google News and Bing News

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: