Skip navigation
B. How the Roundworm Offers Insight into the Human Brain

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are making major breakthroughs in understanding the formation of the nervous system by looking to the roundworm. Lead investigator Cori Bargmann says the nerve connection in a developing roundworm offers insight into understanding the trillions of connections in the human brain.

Bargmann: So the way that I think about why we would work on a worm instead of working on the human brain is for the same reason that if you were trying to understand how an engine worked, you'd be better off studying the 1964 Volkswagen Beetle than a brand new Boeing 777 aircraft. And the analogy here is that we want to understand the simple animal-the Volkswagen-the worm. And that then we can use the insights we learn from that to target our questions to understanding the human brain in a much more precise and intelligent way.

Narrator: Using a fluorescent imaging technique to see the brain cell interactions of the worm, Bargmann and her team have been able to identify a molecule that's crucial to making nerve connections in the brain. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.