Scientists present the first diagram of an animal’s nervous system.
Researchers have, for the first time, mapped the entire nervous system of an animal – the roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans) – and found marked differences between the male and female of the species.
Led by molecular geneticist Scott Emmons, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, US, the team used a range of techniques, including patching together electron microscope images one thousandth the width of a human hair, to create the worm’s wiring diagram.
The result was a tally of 302 neurons in the hermaphrodite/female and 385 neurons in the male, with remarkably close connections between them.
In a case of “two degrees of separation”, a single sensory neuron could reach up to 98% of all other neurons in the network by crossing just two synapses, the chemical junction between the nerve cells.
There were also notable differences between the sexes.
Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here