Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 203, Issue 11, pp 879–889 | Cite as

How the humble insect brain became a powerful experimental model system

  • Heinrich ReichertEmail author


In the 21st century, neurobiological studies focused on the insect brain are revealing unprecedented insight into the molecular, cellular, developmental, and circuit aspects of brain organization and function, notably in the genetic model system of Drosophila melanogaster. Underlying this accelerating progress in understanding the insect brain is a century-long history of ground breaking experimental investigation, methodological advance, and conceptual insight catalyzed by the integration of two emerging research fields, neuroscience and genetics. This review traces some of the key early steps in this remarkable historical scientific adventure of exploring the brain of “these apparently humble representatives of life”.


Neurogenetics Cajal Morgan Genetic toolkit Identified neurons 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biozentrum, University of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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