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
After postdoctoral work at the Max Planck Institute, Mark Bear joined the Brown medical faculty and was named a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator in 1996. In 2003, Bear joined the Picower faculty.

Emery N. Brown

Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences & Technology
A practicing anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Emery Brown is also a noted statistician and a member of the faculty of both the Picower Institute and Harvard Medical School.

Earl K. Miller

Picower Professor of Neuroscience
Earl Miller earned a PhD in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton, then pursued postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health. He joined MIT’s Picower Institute and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1995.

Susumu Tonegawa

Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa joined MIT’s Department of Biology and the MIT Center for Cancer Research in 1981. He founded MIT’s Center for Learning and Memory in 1994 and the Picower Institute in 2002.

Li-Huei Tsai

Picower Professor of Neuroscience
Li-Huei Tsai joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1994. In 2006, she joined MIT’s Picower Institute and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and was named the Director of the Picower Institute in 2009.

Kay M. Tye

Associate Professor of Neuroscience
After completing her postdoctoral training at Stanford University, Kay Tye joined MIT’s Picower Institute and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 2012. She has been recognized with the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.

Matthew Wilson

Sherman Fairchild Professor in Neurobiology
With a PhD in computational and neural systems from the California Institute of Technology, Matthew Wilson joined the Picower Institute and MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1994.

Weifeng Xu

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Weifeng Xu received her PhD in neuroscience from Brown University then completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University Medical Center. In 2009, she joined the Picower Institute and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.

Distinct brain rhythms, regions help us reason about categories

January 25, 2018
Research Findings
Gamma rhythms sort similar-looking objects; beta kicks in when connection is more abstract

How the brain selectively remembers new places

December 25, 2017
Research findings
Neuroscientists identify a circuit that helps the brain record memories of new locations.

MIT neuroscientists build case for new theory of memory formation

October 23, 2017
Research Findings
Existence of “silent engrams” suggests that existing models of memory formation should be revised.

Brain waves reflect different types of learning

October 11, 2017
Research Findings
For the first time, researchers have identified neural signatures of explicit and implicit learning.