neuroMap - Interactive Graph-Visualization of the Fruit Fly's Neural Circuit

Johannes Sorger, Katja Buehler, Florian Schulze, Tianxiao Liu, Barry Dickson

Neuroscientists study the function of neural circuits in the brain of the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to discover how complex behavior is generated. To establish models of neural information processing, knowledge about potential connections between individual neurons is required. Connections can occur when the arborizations of two neurons overlap. Judging connectivity by analyzing overlaps using traditional volumetric visualization is difficult since the examined objects occlude each other. A more abstract form of representation is therefore desirable. In collaboration with a group of neuroscientists, we designed and implemented neuroMap, an interactive two-dimensional graph that renders the brain and its interconnections in the form of a circuit-style wiring diagram. neuroMap provides a clearly structured overview of all possible connections between neurons and offers means for interactive exploration of the underlying neuronal database. In this paper, we discuss the design decisions that formed neuroMap and evaluate its application in discussions with the scientists.