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Towards a Virtual Fly Brain

TitleTowards a Virtual Fly Brain
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsArmstrong, JD, van Hemert, JI
Journal TitlePhilosophical Transactions A
Journal DateJune
Type of Articlearticle

Models of the brain that simulate sensory input, behavioural output and information processing in a biologically plausible manner pose significant challenges to both Computer Science and Biology. Here we investigated strategies that could be used to create a model of the insect brain, specifically that of Drosophila melanogaster which is very widely used in laboratory research. The scale of the problem is an order of magnitude above the most complex of the current simulation projects and it is further constrained by the relative sparsity of available electrophysiological recordings from the fly nervous system. However, fly brain research at the anatomical and behavioural level offers some interesting opportunities that could be exploited to create a functional simulation. We propose to exploit these strengths of Drosophila CNS research to focus on a functional model that maps biologically plausible network architecture onto phenotypic data from neuronal inhibition and stimulation studies, leaving aside biophysical modelling of individual neuronal activity for future models until more data is available.

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