New information about the motor circuits of the brain that may one day help those developing therapies to treat conditions such as stroke, schizophrenia, spinal cord injury or Alzheimer’s disease.
“MRI and CAT scans of the human brain can tell us many things about the structure of this most complicated of organs, formed of trillions of neurons and the synapses via which they communicate. But we are a long way away from having imaging techniques that can show single neurons in a complex brain like the human brain,” said Gavriil Tsechpenakis, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science in the School of Science at Indian University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“But using the tools of artificial intelligence, specifically computer vision and image processing, we are able to visualize and process actual neurons of model organisms. Our work in the brain of a model organism—the fruit fly—will help us and other researchers move forward to more complex organisms with the ultimate goal of reconstructing the human central nervous system to gain insight into what goes wrong at the cellular level when devastating disorders of the brain and spinal cord occur. This understanding may ultimately inform the treatment of these conditions,” said Tsechpenakis.
The study processed images and reconstructed neuronal motor circuitry in the brain, the researchers, who included two Indianapolis high school students—Rachel Stephens and Tiange (Tony) Qu—collected and analyzed data on minute structures over various developmental stages, efforts linking neuroscience and computer science.