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Multi-scale whole-brain map published in Nature


In a new study published in Nature Professor Netta Cohen's group provide the first complete spatial coordinates of the circuit diagrams for the nervous system of the nematode worm C. elegans.

An adult worm has exactly 302 cells in its nervous system - by comparison, the human brain has around 100 billion cells. But almost two-thirds of the worm’s nerve cells form a ring in the head region, where they make thousands of connections with each other.  This ‘brain’ is the control centre of the animal, where much of the sensing and decision-making takes place. Even though the brain is very compact, the animal displays a range of complex behaviours, and neuroscientists have been interested in understanding its brain for decades .

Providing the spatial representation of the circuitry has allowed Prof. Cohen's group to uncover the modular structure of this animal’s brain. They found a large degree of variation in the structure of some neural circuits or pathways in individual worms which complemented a core set of neural circuits common to the animals. This suggests the worm's brain might have a lot more in common with larger animals than previously thought.

Further details can be found here