The Digital Bee Brain: Integrating and Managing Neurons in a Common 3D Reference System


The honeybee standard brain (HSB) serves as an interactive tool for relating morphologies of bee brain neurons and provides a reference system for functional and bibliographical properties ( The ultimate goal is to document not only the morphological network properties of neurons collected from separate brains, but also to establish a graphical user interface for a neuron-related data base. Here, we review the current methods and protocols used to incorporate neuronal reconstructions into the HSB. Our registration protocol consists of two separate steps applied to imaging data from two-channel confocal microscopy scans: (1) The reconstruction of the neuron, facilitated by an automatic extraction of the neuron’s skeleton based on threshold segmentation, and (2) the semi-automatic 3D segmentation of the neuropils and their registration with the HSB. The integration of neurons in the HSB is performed by applying the transformation computed in step (2) to the reconstructed neurons of step (1). The most critical issue of this protocol in terms of user interaction time – the segmentation process – is drastically improved by the use of a model-based segmentation process. Furthermore, the underlying statistical shape models (SSM) allow the visualization and analysis of characteristic variations in large sets of bee brain data. The anatomy of neural networks composed of multiple neurons that are registered into the HSB are visualized by depicting the 3D reconstructions together with semantic information with the objective to integrate data from multiple sources (electrophysiology, imaging, immunocytochemistry, molecular biology). Ultimately, this will allow the user to specify cell types and retrieve their morphologies along with physiological characterizations.

Front. Syst. Neurosci., 13 July 2010
Hans Lamecker
Hans Lamecker
Managing Director

Advancing 3D analysis, planning, design and manufacturing using innovative computational methodologies and tools.