Bones and skin have an amazing ability to self-repair. Even the liver can fully regenerate following a partial hepatectomy. Conversely, our brain, as well as other neural tissue, has an extremely limited ability to self-repair, and physicians can do little to restore function after spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. We are using Drosophila as a model system to understand the limited regenerative capacity of adult neural tissues. In the long-term, our lab aims to assist in developing methods to remake brain structures in adult animals by recapituating developmental processes.
Here, mushroom body neuroblasts that ectopically persist into adult stages generate new neurons (green). The axons of these new ectopic neurons must then integrate into the lobed mushroom body structure (red) already present in the adult brain.