Flies may be able to understand humans, but scientists are not yet certain how exactly they do it. The brains of flies and humans are very different, yet they share many similarities in the way they form and function. The similarities lie in the genes responsible for brain development. Some scientists believe the similarities point to a common ancestor, while others say they were independently evolved.
The last common ancestor of humans and flies lived 500 million years ago, and the two evolved similar strategies for sensing movement. Now, scientists at Stanford University are using flies to better understand the function of human brains. The human brain contains over 100 billion neurons, whereas a fly brain has about 100,000. This makes it easier to study the behavior of flies in the lab.
The fruit fly is a good model for studying emotion because its brain is simpler. For example, a fruit fly’s response to a shadowy overhead stimulus is similar to that of a human frightened or angry person. Researchers hope that this finding will help them learn more about the neural circuitry responsible for human emotion.
The answer to this question is a bit more complicated than this. The brains of insects are composed of different parts, which are capable of interpreting different types of signals. A bug’s legs, for example, have their own sub-brains, which allow it to continue walking even if its central brain fails.