Are you any good at putting names to faces? That’s all down to associative memory; the ability to learn and remember relationships between seemingly unrelated items, like a name and a face. Associative memory is vital to adapting to the world around us. Understanding how nerve cells in our brain give us this ability is tricky, which is why researchers look to simpler animal models, like the fruit fly. Here researchers used scanning electron microscopy to image the fruit fly brain, specifically part of a region called the mushroom body, which is involved in associative memory (pictured). Unravelling the network of almost 1000 nerve cells revealed unexpected connections between several different types of nerve cells, highlighted in different colours. This provides new avenues of research into how these surprising connections control associative memory.
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.