We may see insects as very simple organisms, but scientists see the complex design of insect brains. The human brain has over 80 billion nerve cells, each with about 10,000 connections. To understand the wiring in the human brain, you have to start small. For that reason, scientists mapped the 548,000 connections in the brain of a fruit fly larva. The goal is to learn how to treat disorders in the human brain.
The scientists had to slice the tiny brain into thousands of very thin sections and then use an electron microscope to capture an image of each slice. They could only accomplish the analysis by using powerful computers and specialized analytical tools. Even though they are small, fruitfly brains have regions for decision-making, learning, and navigation. In addition, they have left and right sides, like human brains.
Scientists call the complete brain wiring connections the “connectome,” and this work has practical applications. If we could understand the human brain’s connectome, we might be able to treat learning disorders, schizophrenia, and behavioral issues. Although researchers have been able to map the brain of the fruit fly larva, they are still far from mapping the brain of an adult fruit fly. Mapping the human brain will be even more challenging.
As we read data about the complex design of insect brains, we see how incredible the design of life is. The brain is a vital part of our existence and is far more complex than any computer humans might develop. To think that this complexity could be the product of blind chance processes requires faith beyond the thinking of any reasonable person.
The complex design of insect brains tells us that the “Wisdom” spoken of in Proverbs 8:12 and 22 demonstrates God’s incredible engineering and design. “I wisdom dwell with prudence and find out knowledge of witty inventions … the Lord possessed me in the beginning of His work.”
— John N. Clayton © 2023
References: The journal Science, and “The first wiring map of an insect’s brain hints at incredible complexity” on NPR.org