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Using Facebook-like algorithms, a bespoke microscope, and hefty doses of patience, a team of scientists has determined the brain structure of one of biology’s most powerful model organisms, the transparent, millimeter-long nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

The scientists reported Wednesday that they found a precise set of layers in the brain that correspond directly to sensory organs and muscles, along with unique neurons that form a cage around the layers. In addition to furthering understanding of C. elegans and its nervous system, the research could aid efforts to map and understand the more complex brains of flies, mice, and even the 86 billion-neuron human brain.

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