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Ten thousand neurons linked to behaviors in fly

New view of brain reveals functions of specific cells

3:43pm, March 27, 2014

THERE IS A SEASON  A larval fly will turn and then turn again when researchers activate two neurons in its brain (yellow, top).

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By scrutinizing the twists, turns, wiggles and squirms of 37,780 fruit fly larvae, neuroscientists have created an unprecedented view of how brain cells create behavior. The results, published March 27 in Science, draw direct connections between neurons and specific movements.

“Understanding how neural activity gives rise to behavior is the most important question in neuroscience,” says neuroscientist Kay Tye of MIT, who was not involved in the research. The new study provides a way for scientists to start answering that question, she says. “I think this is a really important approach that’s going to be very influential.”

Scientists led by Marta Zlatic of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va., took advantage of an existing set of specially mutated flies. In each animal, small groups

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