Queensland scientists are trying to understand the bee brain in order to improve treatment measures for diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and depression.
The University of Queensland will be witness to the world's biggest enclosed climate-controlled flight testing facility for insects to enable a detailed understanding of the smallest brains. Undoubtedly, the curiosity of these scientists in the humble bee, is due to the similarity it shares with the human brain.
All Weather Bee Flight Facility, as it is called, costing about $2.5 million will be positioned at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). This facility will enable scientists to delve into the development of the bee brain, to understand its function and behavior.
QBI director Professor Perry Bartlett is of the opinion that bees' brains has the potential for good research, owing to its similarity with the vertebrate brain. They found that specific similarities in the area of vision, smell, aggression, very close to humans. Further, scientists can also study different generations of bees, as the life cycle of a bee is not more than a month.
"Importantly, from a neuroscience perspective, while the bee brain is only about the size of a sesame seed, it has many of the characteristics of the human brain including complex behaviors such as advanced memory and learning," Prof Bartlett said.
Lead researcher Professor Mandyam Srinivasan said "Our research will hopefully increase our knowledge of brain functioning, which will in turn lead us to finding new and effective ways to treat brain disorders like Parkinsons disease, strokes, Alzheimers and depression," he said.