Cognition and Motivation Research

Sleep

Not merely a restorative process, sleep also has a crucial role in learning and memory. Ongoing studies at the Picower Institute are producing new insights into how memory is processed during sleep and dreaming.

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.

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.

Memory and its meaning

October 7, 2019
News Feature
25 Years of Picower Institute research

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

Neurotechnology provides real-time readouts of where rats think they are

December 4, 2018
Research findings
Open-source system provides for fast, accurate neural decoding

Decoding hidden dreams

August 30, 2016
Research Findings
Neuroscientists decrypt the sleeping brain to reveal hidden memories.

Motivation and Behavior

Our desires and fears often govern our actions. Those motivations and behaviors are, in turn, encoded in the brain via circuits that connect different regions. Picower researchers study them in detail to understand how they function and how abnormalities may result in diseases.

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.

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.

Study finds hub linking movement and motivation in the brain

September 19, 2019
Research findings
Detailed observations in the lateral septum indicate region processes movement, reward information to help direct behavior

Neuroscientists look to the body to better understand the brain

July 1, 2019
News Feature
Studies yield new insights into behavior, development, anesthesia

Five Picower students honored as ‘Graduate Women of Excellence’

May 1, 2019
Picower People
Designation recognizes community leadership, service

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

Brain circuit helps us learn by watching others

May 3, 2018
Research Findings
Scientists pinpoint neural interactions that are necessary for observational learning.

Learning and Memory

What we learn and remember help make us who we are. By studying how these systems arise from the contributions of specific genes, molecules, cells, synapses, circuits and systems, Picower scientists make discoveries about how we retain and make use of experiences in the world. By better understanding how these processes may break down, they generate innovative potential treatments and diagnostic methods for complex developmental, psychiatric and degenerative brain disorders.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Study probing visual memory, amblyopia unveils many-layered mystery

December 13, 2019
Research Findings
Plasticity underlying amblyopia found in visual cortex layer 4

In Alzheimer’s research, MIT scientists reveal brain rhythm role

October 22, 2019
At 'SFN'
At Society for Neuroscience meeting, Li-Huei Tsai presents latest findings on sensory stimulation of gamma rhythm

Fundamental questions find advanced answers, approaches at Fall Symposium

October 18, 2019
Events
Experts from around the world discuss "Neural Mechanisms of Memory and Cognition"

Memory and its meaning

October 7, 2019
News Feature
25 Years of Picower Institute research

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.

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.

How returning to a prior context briefly heightens memory recall

December 11, 2018
Research findings
Going back to a scene makes engram cells more electrically excitable

Neurotechnology provides real-time readouts of where rats think they are

December 4, 2018
Research findings
Open-source system provides for fast, accurate neural decoding

Dozens from Picower present research at SfN

November 13, 2018
Recent Events
Researchers take part in field's largest annual exchange of ideas

A new model for how working memory gets you through the day

October 24, 2018
Research findings
Brain rhythms have crucial role in maintenance and control

Earl Miller wins George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience

October 15, 2018
Picower People
Miller will deliver lecture in San Francisco in March

Protein has unique effects in neural connections related to information processing

October 9, 2018
Research findings
SAP102 shapes decay of postysnaptic currents

To understand working memory, scientists must resolve this debate

August 8, 2018
Research findings
How do we hold and juggle multiple pieces of information in mind?

As brain extracts meaning from vision, study tracks progression of processing

July 10, 2018
Research Findings
Six brain regions participate in a more blended way than has been appreciated

Brain circuit helps us learn by watching others

May 3, 2018
Research Findings
Scientists pinpoint neural interactions that are necessary for observational learning.

Symposium speaks to the many powers of brain rhythms

April 9, 2018
Events
11 experts convened at Picower April 4

"What made me aware I wanted to study the brain?"

March 18, 2018
Brain Awareness Week 2018
Picower Institute researchers discuss their early inspiration

Lifting the veil on ‘valence,’ brain study reveals roots of desire, dislike

January 23, 2018
Research Findings
Research reveals inner workings of amygdala, which assigns feelings to experiences

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.

The neural circuits of linked brain waves

September 27, 2017
Research Findings
Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that generates brain waves carrying spatial information

How we recall the past

August 17, 2017
Research Findings
Neuroscientists discover a brain circuit dedicated to retrieving memories.

Blocking a key enzyme may reverse memory loss

August 8, 2017
Research Findings
MIT study suggests a new approach to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit necessary for memory formation

April 6, 2017
Research Findings
New findings challenge standard model of memory consolidation.

Scientists identify brain circuit that drives pleasure-inducing behavior

March 22, 2017
Research Findings
Surprisingly, the neurons are located in a brain region thought to be linked with fear.

Higher Level Cognition

We are not only capable of learning and reasoning about complex information, we can exert volitional control over these processes. Research at the Picower Institute includes studies to understand the cells, circuits and systems that allow for these capabilities and how abnormalities can disrupt them.

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.

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.

Mriganka Sur

Newton Professor of Neuroscience
The goal of the Sur laboratory is to understand long-term plasticity and short-term dynamics in circuits of the developing and adult cortex, and to utilize this understanding to discover mechanisms underlying disorders of brain development.

Fundamental questions find advanced answers, approaches at Fall Symposium

October 18, 2019
Events
Experts from around the world discuss "Neural Mechanisms of Memory and Cognition"

A new model for how working memory gets you through the day

October 24, 2018
Research findings
Brain rhythms have crucial role in maintenance and control

Earl Miller wins George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience

October 15, 2018
Picower People
Miller will deliver lecture in San Francisco in March

Matt Wilson on Intelligence research at MIT

July 12, 2018
Q&A
From the Center for Brains Minds and Machines to the MIT Quest for Intelligence

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

Eleven from MIT elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 2017

April 12, 2017
Awards
Prestigious honor society announces 228 new members this year.

Scientists identify neurons devoted to social memory

September 29, 2016
Research Findings
Cells in the hippocampus store memories of acquaintances, a new study reports.

Arousal Control

Whether awake, asleep or under anesthesia, the brain operates in various states of consciousness, often for prolonged periods. Picower researchers study the biochemistry and systems that generate and govern consciousness and arousal both to achieve basic understanding and to improve clinical care.

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.

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.

BRAIN grant will fund new tools to study astrocytes

August 27, 2019
New Research
Sur lab will lead collaboration to create CRISPR, optogenetic innovations

Neuroscientists look to the body to better understand the brain

July 1, 2019
News Feature
Studies yield new insights into behavior, development, anesthesia

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

Brown wins 2018 Dickson Prize in Science

December 5, 2018
Picower People
CMU award recognizes 'physician-scientist'

Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

September 30, 2018
Research findings
Using fewer drugs can improve post-operative pain, side effects

At AAAS, Brown explains how statistics, neuroscience improve anesthesiology

February 16, 2018
At the lectern
Putting the brain at the center of practice

Recalculating time: A novel algorithm enables statistical analysis of time series data

December 21, 2017
Research findings
MIT researchers have developed a novel approach to analyzing time series data sets using a new algorithm, termed state-space multitaper time-frequency analysis

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