Illustrating the Insect Brain


Illustrations of Visual System Nerves:  a) Mammal b) Cephalopod c) House Fly
Illustrator: Ramon y Cahal

Ramon y Cahal is considered the “Father of Neuroscience”. He was passionate about the inner workings of the brain and sought to better understand the human condition by understanding the brain. Ramon y Cahal was a superb histologist and illustrator who became the sixth person awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1906. He created images of nerve cells and their connections that are still used in neuroscience textbooks today, over 100 years later.

Ramon y Cahal compared nervous systems of different animals and documented profound differences in their organization. He illustrated the nerves in visual systems of a mammal, a cephalopod and a house fly (see image). The house fly visual system is an order of magnitude smaller than the cephalopod but just as complex if not moreso.  However, processing information has enough similarities that studies in insects can be applied to parts of the human visual system.

New instrumentation and molecular tools have greatly increased our ability to map nervous systems with finer detail and better measurements of  their activity.   In the nervous system, function is reflected in the structure a key concept proposed by Ramon y Cahal over a century ago.   His pioneering work on neuroanatomy still guides us today.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Taxonomy, Vision. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Illustrating the Insect Brain

  1. Pingback: Illustrating the Insect Brain – Entomo Planet

  2. Rodrigo says:

    Ramón y Cahal or Ramón y Cajal? Please correct that 😉

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