Neurotechnology Research

Activity Sensors

To understand role of neurons and the circuits in which they participate neuroscientists must be able to gather data on a neuron’s electrical activity, such as when they fire, in real-time. Picower scientists are constantly innovating new genetic and chemical sensors, as well as electronic and imaging-based means to track neural activity both in vitro and in vivo and develop sophisticated means to analyze the large volumes of data gathered.

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.

Troy Littleton

Menicon Professor in Neuroscience
Littleton studies how neurons form synaptic connections, how synapses transmit information, and how synapses change during learning and memory. The research combines molecular biology, protein biochemistry, electrophysiology, and imaging approaches with Drosophila genetics.

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"

New algorithm finds neural spikes in flashing lights

July 10, 2019
Research findings
‘GDspike’ a new option for estimating neural activity from calcium fluorescence

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

Innovations giving neuroscientists exciting new ways to gain insights, symposium speakers say

October 25, 2018
Recent Events
Experts show advances in microscopy, tissue engineering, reporters of brain activity

New tool offers snapshots of neuron activity

June 26, 2017
Neurotechnology
FLARE technique can reveal which cells respond during different tasks.

Brain Imaging

In many ways, Picower Institute neuroscientists are explorers for whom new ways to see inside the brain are essential for finding answers to their questions about how the brain works at scales ranging from synapses to whole networks. Researchers at the institute doesn’t just apply the latest imaging techniques, it often creates new technologies to make imaging better.

Elly Nedivi

William R. (1964) & Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience
Nedivi’s lab investigates the cellular mechanisms of activity-dependent plasticity through studies of synaptic and neuronal remodeling, identification of participating genes, and characterization of the cellular functions of the proteins they encode.

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.

Kwanghun Chung

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience
Chung’s interdisciplinary research team develops technologies for holistic understanding of large-scale complex biological systems. Methods including CLARTIY, MAP and SWITCH enable identification of multi-scale functional networks and interrogation of their system-wide, multifactorial interactions.

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.

Troy Littleton

Menicon Professor in Neuroscience
Littleton studies how neurons form synaptic connections, how synapses transmit information, and how synapses change during learning and memory. The research combines molecular biology, protein biochemistry, electrophysiology, and imaging approaches with Drosophila genetics.

How brain cells pick which connections to keep

August 6, 2019
Research findings
Novel study shows protein CPG15 acts as a molecular proxy of experience to mark synapses for stabilization

MIT Alum's six newly installed paintings seek to investigate, inspire

May 14, 2019
Science and the Arts
Todd Siler 'A.R.T.strings' series donated to Picower Institute by D.A. Duke

Scope advance reveals first look through all cortical layers of awake brain

January 11, 2019
Research findings
Refinement of three-photon microscopy allows unprecendented neuroscience

Chung leads collaboration to make the best brain map yet

January 2, 2019
News Feature
Project will reveal the entire human brain, down to subcellular features

Mapping the brain, cell by cell, with SHIELD

December 17, 2018
Research findings
Technique for preserving tissue allows researchers to create maps of neural circuits with single-cell resolution

Dozens from Picower present research at SfN

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

Innovations giving neuroscientists exciting new ways to gain insights, symposium speakers say

October 25, 2018
Recent Events
Experts show advances in microscopy, tissue engineering, reporters of brain activity

The Developing Brain

July 11, 2018
News feature
Development research yields discoveries, insights, innovations

With new grant, MIT neuroscientists will give 'invisible' cells a new look

February 8, 2018
New research
Astrocytes may 'partner' with neurons to process information

New tool offers snapshots of neuron activity

June 26, 2017
Neurotechnology
FLARE technique can reveal which cells respond during different tasks.

Imaging the brain at multiple size scales

July 25, 2016
Neurotechnology
New technique can reveal subcellular details and long-range connections.

Genetic Engineering

Biological research often calls for imbuing cells, tissue, or animal models in the lab with specific new capabilities – or disabilities, for instance to observe the differences between altered and unaltered cells. Picower Institute neuroscientists employ advanced techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, stem cell, and transgenics to conduct such experiments.

Kwanghun Chung

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience
Chung’s interdisciplinary research team develops technologies for holistic understanding of large-scale complex biological systems. Methods including CLARTIY, MAP and SWITCH enable identification of multi-scale functional networks and interrogation of their system-wide, multifactorial interactions.

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.

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.

Troy Littleton

Menicon Professor in Neuroscience
Littleton studies how neurons form synaptic connections, how synapses transmit information, and how synapses change during learning and memory. The research combines molecular biology, protein biochemistry, electrophysiology, and imaging approaches with Drosophila genetics.

Memory and its meaning

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

BRAIN grant will fund new tools to study astrocytes

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

Speeding up drug discovery for brain diseases

July 31, 2019
Research Findings
Whitehead, Picower team finds drugs that activate a key brain gene; initial tests show promise for rare, untreatable neurodevelopmental disorder

With fellowship, postdoc will work to solve Alzheimer’s myelin mystery

November 8, 2018
Picower People
Joel Blanchard wins 2018 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship in Aging Research

Study suggests method for boosting growth of blood vessels and muscle

March 22, 2018
Research findings
Activating proteins linked to longevity may help to increase endurance and combat frailty in the elderly

Optogenetics

By engineering cells with light-responsive ion channels, optogenetics allow the activity of cells such as neurons to become controlled by pulses of visible light. The technology is widely used throughout the institute in experiments in which purposeful instigation or suppression of neural activity can reveal important data on the functions of cells, circuits, systems, and behaviors.

Ed Boyden

Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology, Departments of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Media Lab, and McGovern Institute
Ed Boyden is professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems

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.

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.

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.

Memory and its meaning

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

BRAIN grant will fund new tools to study astrocytes

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

Three from MIT elected to the National Academy of Sciences

May 1, 2019
Awards & Honors
Faculty members Edward Boyden, Paula Hammond, and Aviv Regev recognized for “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

How flashing lights and pink noise might banish Alzheimer’s, improve memory and more

February 28, 2018
In the media
Neuroscientists are getting excited about non-invasive procedures to tune the brain’s natural oscillations

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.

Kay Tye improvises to understand our inner lives

October 4, 2017
Recognition
Tweaking neurons in lab animals could help reveal what makes us individuals

New tool offers snapshots of neuron activity

June 26, 2017
Neurotechnology
FLARE technique can reveal which cells respond during different tasks.

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit necessary for memory formation

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

A delicate balance between positive and negative emotion

October 17, 2016
Research Findings
Neuroscientists identify two neuron populations that encode happy or fearful memories.

Scientists identify neurons devoted to social memory

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

Tissue Processing

To best visualize and study neural tissue, sometimes researchers need to make chemical alterations, for instance to clear away opaque lipids or to label different molecules. Innovative technologies such as CLARITY, MAP, stochastic electrotransport and SWITCH that can make neural tissue optically clear, enlargeable to allow neuroscientists to better image and study the structure of the brain.

Kwanghun Chung

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience
Chung’s interdisciplinary research team develops technologies for holistic understanding of large-scale complex biological systems. Methods including CLARTIY, MAP and SWITCH enable identification of multi-scale functional networks and interrogation of their system-wide, multifactorial interactions.

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 pinpoints Alzheimer’s plaque emergence early and deep in the brain

October 4, 2019
Research findings
Amyloid emerges early in deep regions such as the mammillary body and marches outward along specific circuits

Kwanghun Chung wins PECASE

July 3, 2019
Picower People
White House award is highest in nation for young scientists

Chung leads collaboration to make the best brain map yet

January 2, 2019
News Feature
Project will reveal the entire human brain, down to subcellular features

Mapping the brain, cell by cell, with SHIELD

December 17, 2018
Research findings
Technique for preserving tissue allows researchers to create maps of neural circuits with single-cell resolution

Innovations giving neuroscientists exciting new ways to gain insights, symposium speakers say

October 25, 2018
Recent Events
Experts show advances in microscopy, tissue engineering, reporters of brain activity

Neuroscientists discover roles of gene linked to Alzheimer’s

May 31, 2018
Research Findings
Study reveals why people with the APOE4 gene have higher risk of the disease

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

Kwanghun Chung receives NIH New Innovator Award

October 13, 2016
Awards
Award will support the development of technologies that can enable a better understanding of complex biological systems.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
43 Vassar Street, Bldg. 46-1303
Cambridge, MA 02139
(+1) 617-324-0305
(+1) 617-452-2588