Scientists get a buzz from fruit fly research

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SHEFFIELD University scientists have gained a new insight into how our brains work after studying the inner workings of fruit flies.

The new research investigated the parts of the flies’ brains – which work just like our human equivalents but which are much less complicated – that enable them to perceive the visual world in detail.

The study set out to challenge a 30-year-old belief that in insect brains colour and motion information are processed independently.

A team of scientists separated the colour sensitivity of the flies’ inner and outer receptors to discover how colour and motion signals interact in the brain.

The scientists used a fly flight simulator which enables them to measures the insect’s response to motion.

Team leader Dr Mikko Juusola said: “Important processes happen at the level of neural circuits all the time.

“Collectively these computations make us who we are.

“They enable us to respond to changes in the real world appropriately, learn new things, recall old memories and to think, dream and play.”