Skip to main content

Spectrum: Autism Research News

Community Newsletter: Tracing fruit fly, human connectomes

by  /  19 March 2023
Speech bubble formed by a network of communication

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

The science Twitter-verse has been abuzz this week about a larval fruit fly connectome published 10 March in Science, the most complex complete connectome to date. It includes “all sensory inputs, all interneurons across both brain hemispheres, and all descending neurons,” tweeted Michael Winding of the University of Cambridge in a thread describing his team’s work. Spectrum covered the brain map when it was released.

“I’m excited to see what else people do with this awesome dataset,” tweeted study investigator Ben Pedigo of Johns Hopkins University.

The “huge feat” of mapping the entire connectome will help neuroscientists better understand neurological diseases, tweeted Shyam Diwakar of the Amrita Mind Brain Center.

“Characterizing the connectome in higher animals will help us to understand the functioning of our brain,” tweeted Rebeca Osca of the Salk Institute.

This resource will help “change the way we ask and answer questions in neuroscience and pave the way for larger mammalian connectomes,” tweeted Amy Robinson Sterling of Princeton University.

Another connectome study, posted as a preprint to bioRxiv also on 10 March, earned its share of laudatory tweets. The resource has “structural and functional whole-brain networks” for about 40,000 people and features multiple measures to choose from, tweeted study investigator Andrew Zalesky of the University of Melbourne.

The project took 20 years’ worth of computing time to complete, and the connectomes are all available on the U.K. Biobank data-sharing platform. The resource could “enable new studies of the human connectome in health, disease and aging at an unprecedented scale,” according to the preprint.

“We provide the largest brain connectivity resource to date,” tweeted study investigator Sina Mansour L., also of the University of Melbourne. Mansour also shared a link to the code used to create the connectome, “including example scripts on how to use the resource.”

“What a massive endeavor providing not one but 28 out-of-the-box versions of structural and functional brain networks, including intermediate data and code,” tweeted Florian Ph.S Fischmeister of the Medical University of Vienna.

“This is an incredible effort, thank you for making these data available!” tweeted Leonardo Tozzi of Stanford University.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to [email protected].

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@Spectrum), Instagram and LinkedIn.

Cite this article: