Cognition and Motivation

Picower Institute scientists study behaviors and cognitive processes including learning, memory, emotion, reasoning and consciousness. To learn more about these or other areas of inquiry, select them under Research Topics and you'll find relevant Picower people, discoveries and events.

Mark Bear

Picower Professor of Neuroscience
Bear’s lab studies how experience and deprivation modify synaptic connections in the brain. Experience-dependent synaptic plasticity is the physical substrate of memory and sculpts connections during postnatal development to determine the capabilities and limitations of brain functions.

Emery N. Brown

Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences & Technology
Brown lab research contributes to understanding the neuroscience of how anesthetics act in the brain to create the states of general anesthesia. Brown has developed signal processing algorithms to solve important data analysis challenges in neuroscience.

Steven Flavell

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Neural operations occur in milliseconds, yet the brain generates behaviors that can last hours. Flavell’s lab studies how neural circuits generate sustained behavioral states, and how physiological and environmental information is integrated into these circuits.

Earl K. Miller

Picower Professor of Neuroscience
Miller’s lab studies the neural mechanisms of attention, learning, and memory needed for voluntary, goal-directed behavior. The lab explores prefrontal function by employing a variety of techniques including multiple-electrode neurophysiology, psychophysics, pharmacological manipulations, and computational techniques.

Susumu Tonegawa

Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
With cutting-edge neuroscience techniques, the Tonegawa lab unravels the molecular, cellular, and neural circuit mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. Studies bridge basic science and disease models to causally dissect how memory works and breaks down.

Li-Huei Tsai

Picower Professor of Neuroscience
The Tsai lab is interested in elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurological disorders that impact learning and memory by taking a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the molecular, cellular, and circuit basis of neurodegenerative disorders.

Matthew Wilson

Sherman Fairchild Professor in Neurobiology
Research in the Wilson laboratory focuses on the study of information representation across large populations of neurons in the mammalian nervous system, as well as on the mechanisms that underlie formation and maintenance of distributed memories, and the role of sleep in memory.

Weifeng Xu

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
The goal of the Xu Laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of neural plasticity essential for information processing and storage in the brain and their dysfunction in diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and intellectual disability.

Brain wave stimulation may improve Alzheimer’s symptoms

March 14, 2019
Research findings
Noninvasive treatment can improve Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss and amyloid plaque buildup in mice.

NSF ‘CAREER’ award helps fund Flavell lab study of behavioral states

February 12, 2019
Picower People
Research will probe how states like sleep emerge and are sustained

Study finds the circuits that may help you keep your cool

January 14, 2019
Research findings
Prefrontal cortex may be able to regulate arousal in locus coreuleus

Gut-brain connection signals worms to alter behavior while eating

December 20, 2018
Research findings
Study may lead to a better understanding of the digestive tract’s nervous system