The connectome of an insect brain

Michael Winding*, Benjamin D. Pedigo, Christopher L. Barnes, Heather G. Patsolic, Youngser Park, Tom Kazimiers, Akira Fushiki, Ingrid V. Andrade, Avinash Khandelwal, Javier Valdes-Aleman, Feng Li, Nadine Randel, Elizabeth Barsotti, Ana Correia, Richard D. Fetter, Volker Hartenstein, Carey E. Priebe, Joshua T. Vogelstein*, Albert Cardona, Marta Zlatic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brains contain networks of interconnected neurons and so knowing the network architecture is essential for understanding brain function. We therefore mapped the synaptic-resolution connectome of an entire insect brain (Drosophila larva) with rich behavior, including learning, value computation, and action selection, comprising 3016 neurons and 548,000 synapses. We characterized neuron types, hubs, feedforward and feedback pathways, as well as cross-hemisphere and brain-nerve cord interactions. We found pervasive multisensory and interhemispheric integration, highly recurrent architecture, abundant feedback from descending neurons, and multiple novel circuit motifs. The brain’s most recurrent circuits comprised the input and output neurons of the learning center. Some structural features, including multilayer shortcuts and nested recurrent loops, resembled state-of-the-art deep learning architectures. The identified brain architecture provides a basis for future experimental and theoretical studies of neural circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadd9330
Issue number6636
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


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