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.

Simple animal model reveals how environment and state are integrated to control behavior

September 6, 2022
Research Findings
A new study shows how stimuli and states such as smells, stressors and satiety converge in an olfactory neuron to guide food-seeking behavior

When Alzheimer’s degrades cells that cross hemispheres, visual memory suffers

August 19, 2022
Research Findings
New research reveals cells that span brain hemispheres to coordinate activity in visual processing centers and shows that Alzheimer’s degrades their structure and therefore their function

When a task adds more steps, this circuit helps you notice

August 5, 2022
Research Findings
By tracking feedback during tasks, the anterior cingulate cortex notices when a new step has become necessary and signals the motor cortex to adjust

How microglia contribute to Alzheimer’s disease

August 4, 2022
Research Findings
A breakdown of lipid metabolism in these brain cells promotes inflammation and interferes with neuron activity, a new study finds

Advanced imaging reveals mired migration of neurons in Rett syndrome lab models

July 29, 2022
Research Findings
Using organoids to model early development, researchers used an emerging microscopy technology to see that new neurons struggled to reach their developmental destination

Sprint then stop? Brain is wired for the math to make it happen

July 28, 2022
Research Findings
To ensure a quick halt, brain circuit architecture avoids a slow process of integration in favor of quicker differentiation, study finds

How the brain responds to surprising events

June 1, 2022
Research Findings
Unexpected outcomes trigger release of noradrenaline, which helps the brain focus its attention and learn from the event

Brown wins share of 2022 Gruber Neuroscience Prize

May 17, 2022
Picower People
Emery N. Brown and three other scientists recognized for advancing statistical, theoretical analyses of neuroscience data

Anesthetic drastically diverts the travels of brain waves

April 27, 2022
Research Findings
Under propofol general anesthesia very slow frequency traveling waves transform and dominate, redirecting and disrupting the higher frequency traveling waves associated with conscious function

A single memory is stored across many connected brain regions

April 11, 2022
Research Findings
Innovative brain-wide mapping study shows that “engrams,” the ensembles of neurons encoding a memory, are widely distributed, including among regions not previously realized

Neurons are fickle. Electric fields are more reliable for information.

March 14, 2022
Research Findings
A new study suggests that electric fields may represent information held in working memory, allowing the brain to overcome “representational drift,” or the inconsistent participation of individual neurons

The model remodeler

March 14, 2022
Research Feature
A Picower Institute primer on ‘plasticity,’ the brain’s amazing ability to constantly adapt to and learn from experience