Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Tech Videos

Fly brains provide clues to human motion perception

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 - 02:53

Feb. 26 - Researchers at Stanford University are putting flies on a treadmill to see how their brains respond to motion. The scientists say flies and humans perceive movement in very similar ways and believe the insects could shed new light on how the human brain processes information. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

This fly is being put through its paces in a lab at Stanford University. It's watching moving objects on a tiny panoramic screen as it walks on a treadmill. Researchers at the lab are recording its movements to gauge how it perceives motion. In another lab, a volunteer is watching the same images. His brain activity is also being recorded. Thomas Clandinin, an associate professor of neurobiology, says that even though human and flies are at opposite ends of the evolutionary scale - when it comes to perceiving motion, the similarities are surprising. (SOUNDBITE) (English) THOMAS CLANDININ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF NEUROBIOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "The basic building blocks for how the circuits in the fly's brain work are really shockingly similar to the brains of humans and the brains of other vertebrae models that people have studied. So the basic algorithms that the brain uses to do very fundamental things in vision seem to be very similar." And Clandinin says that's important… because it allows him to search for clues to human brain function on a much smaller scale. A fly's brain is made up of just one hundred thousand neurons as opposed to a human brain which is comprised of more than 100 billion. Clandinin says the tricky part was coming up with a method to accurately record the fly's brain activity - that's where the treadmill comes in. (SOUNDBITE) (English) THOMAS CLANDININ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF NEUROBIOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "What we do is ask them to move their feet. And essentially we put them on a little treadmill and they are going to move the treadmill themselves and by moving the treadmill they tell us what they saw and we can measure the relationship between what they see and what they do by this kind of automatic report." The scientists are now trying to learn how the brains of humans and flies evolved to compute motion in the same way. (SOUNDBITE) (English) THOMAS CLANDININ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF NEUROBIOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "I think all of this is connected to the larger goal of understanding our brains work both in healthy people and people with psychiatric and neurological diseases. There are a lot of psychiatric and neurological disorders that afflict many of us where our existing treatment strategies are incredibly poor. And in order to make them better there is a broad belief and a strong belief that I hold is that we need to know how the brain works in more detail in order to make a rational design for these kinds of therapeutic strategies." To do that Clandinin says he and his team must first try to identify the neural networks flies use to solve problems produced by motion. He says the ability to map the human brain is many years into the future but for now, the humble fly is giving them a running start.

Fly brains provide clues to human motion perception

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 - 02:53

Top News »

Money »

Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - (2:35)

S&P falls back from record high S&P falls back from record high

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (1:35)

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

11:55am EDT - (1:00)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)