Systems Neuroscience Research

Computational Neuroscience

Computational neuroscience is the study of brain function in terms of the nervous system’s information processing capabilities, such as those exhibited by neurons as they interact in circuits, ensembles and systems via electrical and chemical signals. Computational neuroscience models allow for generating hypotheses about learning and memory, cognition and arousal among other brain functions.

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.

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.

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.

Brown wins 2018 Dickson Prize in Science

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

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

Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

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

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

Executive Function

People employ executive functions such as attention and planning to achieve goals and act on motivations, aided by learning and memory. Research at the Picower Institute seeks to understand how the complex coordination of cells, circuits and systems works in the brain to enable such functions.

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.

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.

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

New study reveals how brain waves control working memory

January 26, 2018
Research findings
Brain rhythms act as a gate for information entering and leaving the mind.

Rhythmic interactions between cortical layers control what we hold in mind

January 15, 2018
Research findings
A new study by MIT neuroscientists suggests a model for how we gain volitional control of working memory

Earl Miller receives Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cognitive Neuroscience

November 1, 2016
Awards
Neuroscientist recognized for his role in modeling brain circuitry as it gives rise to cognition.

Memory Systems

Memories can be of many types (e.g. places or faces), operate on different timeframes (long- or short-term), and be stored and recalled through distinct processes involving multiple brain regions. The subject of intense interest across the Picower Institute, memory systems are studied widely and in depth.

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.

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.

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.

Alumnus gives MIT $4.5 million to establish the Broderick Fund for Phytocannabinoid Research

April 30, 2019
New Research
Gifts to MIT and Harvard Medical School totaling $9 million will fund independent research on cannabinoid’s influence on brain health and behavior

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

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?

A heavy working memory load may sink brainwave ‘synch’

April 5, 2018
Research Findings
At capacity coupling between key regions breaks down

Making waves for health

March 1, 2018
News feature
Innovative insights, methods raise clnical potential of instilling brain waves

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit necessary for memory formation

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

Unique visual stimulation may be new treatment for Alzheimer’s

December 7, 2016
Research Findings
Noninvasive technique reduces beta amyloid plaques in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists identify neurons devoted to social memory

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

Decoding hidden dreams

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

Neural Circuits

A hallmark of how our brains work is the interactions of neurons in circuits via dynamically formed connections called synapses. Picower scientists identify, map, and analyze circuits involved in learning and memory, emotion and behavior, and other brain functions both in health and disease.

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

Gloria Choi

Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Assistant Professor of Applied Biology
Choi’s lab studies the interaction of the immune system with the brain and the effects of that interaction on neurodevelopment, behavior and mood.

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.

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.

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.

Neuroscientists look to the body to better understand the brain

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

Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms

April 4, 2019
Research Findings
Finding could improve development of personalized psychiatric treatments

"What do I most like to tell people about the brain?"

March 17, 2019
Brain Awareness Week 2019
Picower researchers mark Brain Awareness Week 2019

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.

New faculty member studies immune system effect on the brain

February 20, 2019
Picower People
Gloria Choi's research has connected maternal infection with neurodevelopmental disorders

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

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

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

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

Dozens from Picower present research at SfN

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

Dopamine primes the brain for enhanced vigilance

November 7, 2018
Research findings
Neuroscientists discover a circuit that helps redirect attention to focus on potential threats

With sense of humility, responsibility new MIT postdoc begins HHMI fellowship

September 12, 2018
Picower People
Matheus Victor earns support for next eight years

Flavell earns School of Science named professorship

July 23, 2018
Tapped as the Lister Brothers Career Development Professor

What separates the strong from the weak among connections in the brain

July 10, 2018
Research Findings
Calcium flux, channnels and time to mature are key

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

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.

Kay Tye receives NIH Pioneer Award

October 5, 2017
Awards
The award will be used to map the neural circuitry of social interactions and develop a mathematical model for complex group behaviors.

The neural circuits of linked brain waves

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

Studies help explain link between autism, severe infection during pregnancy

September 13, 2017
Research findings
Bacterial populations in mother’s GI tract may play a central role.

How we recall the past

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

A noninvasive method for deep brain stimulation

June 1, 2017
Research Findings
Electrodes placed on the scalp could help patients with brain diseases.

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.

Scientists identify neurons devoted to social memory

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

Eight School of Science faculty appointed to named professorships

September 22, 2016
None

Oscillations

The coordinated electrical activity of many neurons produces oscillations, also known as brain rhythms or brain waves. Once considered to perhaps be mere byproducts of neural activity, oscillations are increasingly understood by new research, including some at the Picower Institute, to play a key roles in brain function. Indeed, oscillations may be important targets for therapeutic intervention to benefit brain health.

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.

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.

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.

Why visual stimulation may work against Alzheimer’s

May 7, 2019
Research Findings
New findings help explain the surprising discovery that exposure to flickering light reduces amyloid plaques in mice

Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms

April 4, 2019
Research Findings
Finding could improve development of personalized psychiatric treatments

Alana gift to MIT launches Down syndrome research center, technology program for disabilities

March 20, 2019
New Research Center
Foundation’s $28.6 million gift will fund science, innovation, education to advance understanding, ability, inclusion.

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.

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

Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

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

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

Symposium speaks to the many powers of brain rhythms

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

Making waves for health

March 1, 2018
News feature
Innovative insights, methods raise clnical potential of instilling brain waves

Reward Systems

Learning and motivation are often governed by the experience of reward and the desire to obtain it again. At the same time, some diseases such as addiction hijack this system. Researchers at Picower study these systems to gain insight into the mechanisms of healthy and unhealthy behavior.

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.

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.

Visual System

Perhaps the most prized of our senses, the visual system has long provided neuroscientists a model for studying neural plasticity and development and cortical dynamics. It also is a system in which disorders can produce devastating disabilities. At the Picower Institute, scientists study this system to gain broad insights into the brain and also to address societal needs.

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.

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.

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.

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

MIT scientists discover fundamental rule of brain plasticity

June 22, 2018
Research Findings
When a synapse strengthens, others immediately nearby weaken

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

Creating new treatments for amblyopia

November 21, 2016
Research Findings
Study finds decreasing activity in the eye can help overcome visual impairment.

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