Disconnecting the brain from the outside world
Giacomo Bertuzzi is interested in the interaction of living organisms with the world. He has tried to find a way to follow continuously, for days, the dynamics of the Drosophila (fruit fly) brain while simultaneously recording the behaviour of the experimental fly. The fruit fly brain is tiny but well organized. It shares many common features with the brain of mammals, like us. Most questions related to the functioning of the fruit fly brain still have no answer. Giacomo’s goal has been to develop a tool to help to find some of those answers. He has recorded neuronal and behavioural activity for up to seven days in a fly living under experimental conditions. When the tool is shared, the scientific community will be able to address a variety of questions, and potentially explore the level of consciousness of a fruit fly.
In this short film, Giacomo describes two of the images he has captured through his research and what they tell us about how the fruit fly's brain and inner world connects and disconnects with the outside world.
Giacomo Bertuzzi is reading for a DPhil in Ion Channels & Disease (2017) Wellcome Trust Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour – Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
‘… there may be extraordinary mental activity within an extremely small absolute mass of nervous matter: thus the wonderfully diversified instincts, mental powers, and affections of ants are notorious, yet their cerebral ganglia are not so large as the quarter of a small pin’s head. Under this point of view, the brain of an ant is one of the most marvelous atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the brain of a man.’ Charles Darwin.
If Darwin could appreciate the progress we have made in understanding the brain of Drosophila, I think he would share my enthusiasm for the absolutely fascinating microcosm that is the brain of the tiny fruit fly.