Research Topics

As this gallery of featured people and projects illustrates, Picower Institute scientists study brain structure and function at scales from genes and molecules to cells, circuits and regions. They also study the behaviors and cognitive processes that result, and seek to uncover how disruptions at different scales can result in developmental, psychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders. They employ—and often invent—the newest technologies in their work. To learn more about any of these specific areas, click "Research Topics" above, select areas of interest, and you'll find relevant Picower people, discoveries and events.

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.

Study models how ketamine’s molecular action leads to its effects on the brain

May 20, 2024
Research Findings
New research addresses a gap in understanding how ketamine’s impact on individual neurons leads to pervasive and profound changes in brain network function.

Autism symptoms sometimes improve amid fever, so a research team will study how to make that a therapy

May 8, 2024
New Research
With support from The Marcus Foundation, an MIT neuroscientist and a Harvard Medical School immunologist will study the “fever effect” in an effort to devise therapies that mimic its beneficial effects.

In the brain, bursts of beta rhythms implement cognitive control

April 23, 2024
Research Findings
Bursts of brain rhythms with “beta” frequencies control where and when neurons in the cortex process sensory information and plan responses. Studying these bursts would improve understanding of cognition and clinical disorders, researchers write.

Movement disorder ALS and cognitive disorder FTLD show strong molecular overlaps, new study shows

March 22, 2024
Research Findings
Single-cell gene expression patterns in the brain’s motor and frontal cortex, and evidence from follow-up experiments, reveal many shared cellular and molecular similarities that could be targeted for potential treatment

Livestreaming the Brain

March 15, 2024
Research Feature
To learn how the brain works, Picower Institute labs are advancing technologies and methods to watch it live as it happens

A noninvasive treatment for “chemo brain”

March 6, 2024
Research Findings
Stimulating gamma brain waves may protect cancer patients from memory impairment and other cognitive effects of chemotherapy, a new mouse study suggests.

How sensory gamma rhythm stimulation clears amyloid in Alzheimer’s mice

February 28, 2024
Research Findings
Stimulating a key brain rhythm with light and sound increases peptide release from interneurons, driving clearance of Alzheimer’s protein via the brain’s glymphatic system, new study suggests.

Study reveals a universal pattern of brain wave frequencies

January 18, 2024
Research Findings
Across mammalian species, brain waves are slower in deep cortical layers, while superficial layers generate faster rhythms.

'Cellf' Expression

December 20, 2023
Research Feature
Picower Institute scientists are using single cell genomics techniques to measure gene expression and produce unque insights into nervous system biology and disease

Nanoparticle-delivered RNA reduces neuroinflammation in lab tests

December 11, 2023
Research Findings
In mice and human cell cultures, MIT researchers showed that novel nanoparticles can deliver a potential therapy for inflammation in the brain, a prominent symptom in Alzheimer’s disease

How a mutation in microglia elevates Alzheimer’s risk

November 16, 2023
Research Findings
A new MIT study finds that microglia with mutant TREM2 protein reduce brain circuit connections, promote inflammation and contribute to Alzheimer’s pathology in other ways