Select Topics
Cognition and Motivation
Systems Neuroscience
Molecular and Cellular

Neuro Genomics and Proteomics

Fundamentally the central nervous system is made up of cells whose functions are specified by which genes are expressed, and how and when.  At the Picower Institute, scientists use “big data” and bio-informatics techniques to make new discoveries about how genes and the proteins that arise from their expression influence brain function and how abnormalities contribute to disease.

Brain Imaging

In many ways, Picower Institute neuroscientists are explorers for whom new ways to see inside the brain are essential for finding answers to their questions about how the brain works at scales ranging from synapses to whole networks. Researchers at the institute doesn’t just apply the latest imaging techniques, it often creates new technologies to make imaging better.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism refers to a group of developmental disorders typically affecting behaviors including social interaction. Picower researchers study the neurobiology underlying a variety of forms of autism, including genetic anomalies and other ways that synapses and neural circuits may develop differently. Their studies extend to the level of cognitive functions and associated systems.

Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s disease is an inherited, progressive, neurodegenerative disorder associated with mutation of the Huntingtin protein results in wide-ranging motor, cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Work at the Picower Institute involves advancing the understanding of how the mutation gives rise to these consequences.


A developmental disorder with typical onset in young adulthood, schizophrenia affects cognition and behavior, sometimes affecting a person’s understanding of reality. Research in the Picower Institute spans synapses and systems to help better understand the condition and how treatments might be improved.

Learning and Memory

What we learn and remember help make us who we are. By studying how these systems arise from the contributions of specific genes, molecules, cells, synapses, circuits and systems, Picower scientists make discoveries about how we retain and make use of experiences in the world. By better understanding how these processes may break down, they generate innovative potential treatments and diagnostic methods for complex developmental, psychiatric and degenerative brain disorders.

Computational Neuroscience

Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the nervous system’s information processing capabilities, such as those exhibited by neurons as they interact in circuits, ensembles and systems via electrical and chemical signals. Computational neuroscience models allow for generating hypotheses about learning and memory, cognition and arousal among other brain functions.

Neural Circuits

A hallmark of how our brains work is the interactions of neurons in circuits via dynamically formed connections called synapses. Picower scientists identify, map, and analyze circuits involved in learning and memory, emotion and behavior, and other brain functions both in health and disease.

Neural Plasticity

A requirement of learning and memory is a brain capable of stably encoding change. Throughout our lives, in response to our experiences, our neurons form new synaptic connections and prune away others. Scientists in the Picower Institute study these processes of plasticity, elucidating their workings down to the molecule, to better understand how they work.

Synapse Mapping

A typical neuron has thousands of synapses that connect it with other neurons in neural circuits. The location, type and constantly changing strength of each of these synapses determine how each neuron plays its role in the brain and how circuits are remodeled by experience. Research at the Picower Institute to map synapses is therefore essential to understanding how neural connections underlie brain functions and disease.

Genetic Engineering

Biological research often calls for imbuing cells, tissue, or animal models in the lab with specific new capabilities – or disabilities, for instance to observe the differences between altered and unaltered cells. Picower Institute neuroscientists employ advanced techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, 3D stem cell and printing technologies, and transgenics to conduct such experiments.

Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are neurodegenerative conditions characterized by a progressive loss of some mental functions, such as memory loss and cognitive decline. Through fundamental research on how the brain stores and recalls memory and on the biology of neurodegeneration, Picower researchers are developing crucial insights and working to translate them into potential therapies.