A fly's eye view

What can a fly's eye view of the world tell us about how our own brains work?

A team of scientists from the University of Cambridge will be answering this question at the Royal Society's New Frontiers in Science Exhibition, which opens next week.

The group's exhibit, called Seeing the brain through a fly's eye, will demonstrate how research into a fly's visual system can show how our own brains have evolved to process information more efficiently.

As well as getting the chance to discover what the world looks like through the eyes of a common housefly, visitors to the exhibition will be able to take part in experiments with giant model neurones -- and take a look at some of the research being carried out in the Insect Vision Group, at the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology.

Professor Simon Laughlin, head of the group, has been researching how much energy an insect uses to process different kinds of information.

Since energy supply is critical to the brain, there is an evolutionary pressure on the brain to use energy efficiently.

Professor Laughlin said:

"Understanding the relationship between energy and information processing could have far-reaching implications.

"If we can understand which processes in the human brain consume the most energy, this could be useful for developing effective treatments for treating stroke patients.

"It could also give us a better understanding of how state-of-the-art scanning techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) work."


Contact: Professor Simon Laughlin
University of Cambridge

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