The Digital Honey Bee Brain Atlas

  • Jürgen Rybak


For a comprehensive understanding of brain function, compiling data from a range of experiments is necessary. Digital brain atlases provide useful reference systems at the interface of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, behavioral biology and neuroinformatics. Insect brains are particularly useful because they constitute complete three-dimensional references for the integration of morphological and functional data. Image acquisition is favored by small sized brains permitting whole brain scans using confocal microscopy. Insect brain atlases thus serve different purposes, e.g. quantitative volume analyses of brain neuropils for studying closely related species, developmental processes and neuronal plasticity; documenting and storing the Gestalt and spatial relations of neurons, neural networks and neuropils; structuring large amounts of anatomical and physiological data, thus providing a repository for data sharing among researchers. This chapter focuses on the spatial relations of neurons in the honey bee brain using the Honey bee Standard Brain (HSB). The integration of neurons into the HSB requires standardized image processing, computer algorithms and protocols that aid reconstruction and visualization. A statistical shape model has been developed in order to facilitate the segmentation process. Examples from the olfactory and mechanosensory pathways in the bee brain and the organization of the mushroom bodies (MBs) are used to illustrate the implementation and strength of the HSB. An outline will be given for the use of the brain atlas to link semantic information (e.g. from physiology, biochemistry, genetics) and neuronal morphology.


Mushroom Body Antennal Lobe Brain Atlas Statistical Shape Model Kenyon Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Abbreviations (Excluding Brain Areas)


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (neurotransmitter)


Honey bee Standard Brain


Iterative Shape Averaging


Statistical shape model


Virtual insect brain


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary NeuroethologyMax-Planck-Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany

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