The brain is so complex that we understand little about how it works. However, studies of simpler animals, such as zebrafish, provide insights into biological processes that are common to all vertebrates, including humans. A group of scientists is publishing an online neuroanatomical atlas of the embryonic zebrafish brain, mapping out its nerve cells, or neurons, and their connections as a handy reference guide for researchers worldwide. Pictured is an image from the atlas, with neurons coloured green by a fluorescent protein. Retinal ganglion cells, a type of neuron that sends visual information to the brain, surround the lens of the eye, seen as a dark circle. Hair cells of the ear – neurons that enable hearing – are grouped together on the right, while sensory neuromasts, which allow the fish to sense vibrations, are clustered along the bottom of the picture.
Written by Mick Warwicker
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.