Reduced Silver Sections

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-completed- Introduction (see below)
-completed- Frontal Sections
-development- Frontal Series (Optic Lobe)
-completed- Horizontal Sections
-development- Sagittal Sections
-development- Thoracic-Abdmoninal Ganglia in progress
-completed- Java Browser for Frontal and Horizontal Sections
-completed- Staining Method

Introduction to Reduced Silver Sections

The coordinate system used in the Atlas is based on a system used previously to describe the brain of Musca domestica (Strausfeld, 1976). Internal markers within the neuropil have been used to provide equidistant (50 micron) grid intersections along orthogonal X, Z, and Y axes. Structures in frontal sections refer to the Z and X coordinates. Z = 0 and X = 0 originate at the center of the ellipsoid body. +X is to the left of each image and +Z is upward of X=0.

The Zero of each coordinate is shown as a red or blue dot at the zero crossing line. For sake of clarity, the labeling of increments (+50, +100 or -50, -100 etc.) has been omitted. Frontal sections are referred to as section Y = and then + or - and a number. A Y+ number means that a section is that many microns anterior to Y=0 (the frontal [i.e., vertical] plane through the ellipsoid body). The series comprises consecutive histological sections but in some cases two successive images are of two optical sections from the same histological section.

The series is introduced by rows thumbnail images. Each image is of a 10mm paraplast section stained by the reduced silver (Bodian) method, one of the classical techniques of CNS histology. Summary diagrams provide quick guides to salient features in the Atlas and to other images of cell types, cell arrangements, or related structures in other taxa. Clicking on any thumbnail image provides a low resolution rendition accompanied by a textual description. Clicking on this next image will provide its high resolution version that is annotated to show the location of various brain structures. Texts accompanying each figure are linked to other types of relevant information. There are additional links between images of the series and a JAVA rendition of the series showing certain neuropil regions highlighted. The current version of the Atlas will be periodically updated to accommodate new links and to accommodate new descriptions of brain regions that are currently terra incognito, or will have revised sections and labels.

(Histological reparations by Ilya Vilinsky, N.J. Strausfeld; image construction by N.J. Strausfeld; text by N. J. Strausfeld; image/text installations by Lars Hansen, Al Brower, JAVA Atlas by Lars Hansen).

Reduced silver sections are organized as follows:

-completed- Brain (supra- and suboesophageal ganglia). Frontal, horizontal, and sagittal series.
-completed- Fused thoracic-abdominal ganglia (under construction).

Data planned

-development- Peripheral nervous system and central targets.
-development- Muscles and motor innervation.

Reduced Silver (Bodian) method

The reduced silver (Bodian) method used for the Atlas used prealigned brains, following the procedure of Heisenberg and Böehl (1979). Material was fixed in AAF (85 ml absolute alcohol, 5ml acetic acid, 10ml 38% E.M. grade formaldehyde), dehydrated, and embedded in Paraplast Plus. Serial 10 mm sections were then stained according to the original Bodian (1937) protocol using Roches Silver Proteinate. Sections were captured using a Sony "Cat's Eye" DKC-5000 and labeled using Adobe Photoshop.


  1. Bodian, D. Anat Rec. 69,153-162 (1937)
  2. Heisenberg, M. and Böehl Z.Naturforsch 34c,143-147 (1979)
  3. Strausfeld, N. J. Atlas of an Insect Brain. Springer-Verlag (1976)

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