Scientists have compiled the world's first complete map of the neural connections of a living creature

Experts in the field of connectomics - mapping the neural connections in living things - have reported a historic breakthrough. For the first time, they managed to draw up a complete map of the location of nerve connections in a single organism. The test subjects were the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, the simplest form of life that is often used in the interests of science.

The structure of the worm's nervous system has been known for a long time, but creating a detailed map has proven incredibly time-consuming. Suffice it to say that the first steps were taken back in 1986, when scientists obtained the first electron micrographs of individual nerve bundles. Since then, thousands of such photographs have been analyzed and the location of all the connections of the nerves with each other, as well as with the muscles and other tissues in the worm's body, have been determined.

With an adult Caenorhabditis elegans 1 mm long, their nervous system has 302 neurons in the hermaphrodite individual, which expand to 385 in the male. Now scientists know the location of all synapses, the strength of their connection, mutual influence and control mechanisms of the body. This makes it possible, for example, to trace the effect of the disease on the worm's body at a qualitatively new level. And also understand how the whole system works in different situations.

Compared to humans, the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system is extremely primitive, but the basic processes in it in our species are approximately the same. And the creation of a complete map of neural connections and its subsequent analysis will be an excellent starting point for studying more complex forms of life.