FlyWire: Column Countdown

Our first goal in FlyWire is an optical column. We initially define this as all the synaptic partners of one Medulla neuron. Together, that comes to 160 cells.

Semi circle Chart

Meet Medulla 1: The core of Column 1.

We begin in FlyWire by mapping all the synaptic partners of a medulla neuron.

Medulla 1

It forms synaptic connections with 159 other up and downstream cells, which you can see in the video below.

These cells stratify in the Laminar and Medullar region of fly brain and are essential to vision, which as you can imagine is critical to a fly.

lamina, medulla, connectome, drosophila, fly brain, neuroscience
Our first column with respect to the whole fly brain

The optic column plays a role in processing visual information, similar to the retinal neurons we’ve been working on in Eyewire. A notable exception is that FlyWire electron microscopy images include the entire brain, so we are able to chart all the pathways of these cells, from the retina periphery all the way through the central brain. Exactly how columns work remains to be discovered. Fly brains have a huge amount of processing power dedicated to vision; charting the brain’s optic columns is therefore critical to understanding the overall information flow within the fly connectome.

You can check out all 159 partners of Medulla 1 here (note link only works after you have gained access to Production). When Eyewire first launched on Dec 12, 2012, our ambitious goal was to map a whole J Cell in one week. Now, a decade later, we can map a single neuron in as little as 5 minutes. How fast can we complete these 160 neurons and knock our previous record out of the water?

What’s next? We will work our way through as many of the 800 optical columns in the fly brain as possible before the big fly brain paper is submitted for publication in the very near future. The next set of cells comprises 814 neurons connecting through 8 medulla neurons and will be released after we complete Column 1.

See you on!

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