See What a Bumblebee’s Brain Looks Like

Shaunacy Ferro

Even a bumblebee can get a CT scan now. New technology is making it easier to image the tiniest brains, as an international team of biologists and engineers demonstrated in a new study published in Scientific Reports. In it, they use micro-computed tomography to image the brains of bumblebees and reconstruct them in 3D. The team collected hundreds of image slices of bumblebee brains (like the ones below) and then merged them to create high-resolution 3D models.

“This methodology provides a much more accurate and realistic image of the shape, size, and interactions of soft tissues in the very small brains of insects,” study co-author Nigel Raine, a UK-based bee expert, explains in a press release.

See what's going on in a bumblebee's head:

Insect brains pack a lot of power into a tiny organ (for instance, they are responsible for making bees fantastic navigators), making them particularly interesting for cognitive biologists and neurologists to study. Better imaging of the brains of bees and other insects could lead to a much better scientific understanding of the mechanisms behind these animals’ behavior.

All images from Smith et. al, Scientific Reports (2015)