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.

From labs to the streets, experts work to defuse childhood threats to mental health

May 18, 2023
Picower Events
Symposium speakers describe numerous ways to promote prevention, resilience, healing and wellness after early life stresses

40 Hz vibrations reduce Alzheimer’s pathology, symptoms in mouse models

May 18, 2023
Research Findings
Tactile stimulation improved motor performance, reduced phosphorylated tau, preserved neurons and synapses and reduced DNA damage, a new study shows

From molecular to whole-brain scale in a simple animal, study reveals serotonin’s effects

May 15, 2023
With full genetic control and visibility into neural activity and behavior, MIT scientists map out chemical’s role in behavior

A new peptide may hold potential as an Alzheimer’s treatment

April 12, 2023
Research Findings
The peptide blocks a hyperactive brain enzyme that contributes to the neurodegeneration seen in Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

‘Spatial Computing’ enables flexible working memory

March 15, 2023
Research Findings
Brain applies rhythms to physical patches of the cortex to selectively control just the right neurons at the right times to do the right things.

3 questions for Mriganka Sur: The basic research origin of the first approved drug to treat Rett syndrome

March 10, 2023
On March 10 the FDA approved Trofinetide, a drug based on the protein IGF-1, as the first drug available to treat Rett syndrome. The original research showing that IGF-1 could treat Rett syndrome was published by MIT in 2009.

Astrocyte cells critical for learning skilled movements

March 10, 2023
Research Findings
When astrocyte function is disrupted, neurons in the brain’s motor cortex struggle to execute and refine motion, a new study in mice shows.

Sparse, small, but diverse neural connections help make perception reliable, efficient

February 2, 2023
Research Findings
First detailed mapping and modeling of thalamus inputs onto visual cortex neurons show brain leverages “wisdom of the crowd” to process sensory information

Small studies of 40Hz sensory stimulation confirm safety, suggest Alzheimer’s benefits

December 1, 2022
Research Findings
MIT researchers report early stage clinical study results of tests with non-invasive 40Hz light and sound treatment

Alzheimer’s risk gene undermines insulation of brain’s “wiring”

November 16, 2022
Research Findings
In people carrying the APOE4 risk variant, a key brain cell type mismanages cholesterol needed to insulate neurons properly—another sign that APOE4 contributes to disease by disrupting lipids in the brain

Are covid ‘comas’ signs of a protective hibernation state?

November 7, 2022
Research Findings
Scientists hypothesize that, as in a hibernating turtle, the brain under sedation and deprived of oxygen may assume a protective state

With fractured genomes, Alzheimer’s neurons call for help

September 28, 2022
Research Findings
Study indicates that ailing neurons may instigate an inflammatory response from the brain’s microglia immune cells