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

Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
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.

How the brain focuses on what’s in mind

September 5, 2022
Research Findings
When holding information in mind, neural activity is more focused when and where there are bursts of gamma frequency rhythms

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

Circuit model may explain how deep brain stimulation treats Parkinson’s disease symptoms

May 16, 2022
Research Findings
Stimulation of subthalamic nucleus interrupts a cycle of runaway beta-frequency rhythms and restores ability of interneurons to regulate rhythms in the brain’s striatum, improving movement, study suggests

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

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

Research advances technology of AI assistance for anesthesiologists

February 2, 2022
Research Findings
A new deep learning algorithm trained to optimize doses of propofol to maintain unconsciousness during general anesthesia could augment patient monitoring

Statistical model defines ketamine anesthesia’s effects on the brain

September 3, 2021
Research Findings
Neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a statistical framework that rigorously describes the brain state changes that patients experience under ketamine-induced anesthesia.

Postdocs earn interdisciplinary Schmidt Science Fellowships

June 3, 2021
Picower People
Selective global honor supports researchers in new scientific pursuits

New algorithms show accuracy, reliability in gauging unconsciousness under general anesthesia

May 6, 2021
Research Findings
Machine learning software advances could help anesthesiologists optimize drug dose

Neural networks need more than neurons, new project posits

March 4, 2021
New Research
With a new grant from the U.S. Army, a team of scientists will seek to enhance artificial intelligence by integrating brain cells called astrocytes

Brown wins SfN’s Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

October 26, 2020
Picower People
Award cites major contributions to statistical analysis of brain activity and advancing the neuroscience of anesthesia

Statistical model improves analysis of skin conductance

October 5, 2020
Research Findings
By accounting for sweat physiology, method can make better use of electrodermal activity for tracking subconscious changes in physical or emotional state

From Biological Intelligence to Artificial Intelligence

September 17, 2020
Research Feature
How basic neuroscience research by Picower faculty has mattered to AI

Math shows how brain stays stable amid internal noise and a widely varying world

August 10, 2020
Research Findings
Theoretical framework shows that many properties of neural connections help biological circuits produce consistent computations

New method classifies brain cells based on electrical signals

August 22, 2019
Research findings
Making electrophysiology more informative, team shows how to distinguish four classes of cells by spike waveform

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.

Circuit that focuses attention brings in wide array of inputs

April 21, 2022
Research Findings
With a comprehensive map of the wiring, researchers can now discern what information flows into the circuit to enable a key brain function

Cortex over reflex: Study traces circuits where executive control overcomes instinct

November 30, 2020
Research Findings
Anterior cingulate cortex overrides reflexive inclination of the superior colliculus when rules reqiure

Scientists identify specific brain region and circuits controlling attention

November 2, 2020
Research Findings
Study shows that norepinephrine producing neurons in the locus coeruleus produce attention focus, impulse control via two distinct connections to prefrontal cortex

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"

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

Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
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.

Celebrating 20 years of discovery, Picower Institute looks ahead to continuing impact

September 28, 2022
Recent Events
At an exhibition marking two decades since a transformative gift from The Picower Foundation, current and alumni members described research at the forefront of neuroscience and beyond

How the brain focuses on what’s in mind

September 5, 2022
Research Findings
When holding information in mind, neural activity is more focused when and where there are bursts of gamma frequency rhythms

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

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

Brain’s ‘memory center’ needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights

July 26, 2021
Research Findings
The visual cortex stores and remembers individual images, but when they are grouped into a sequence, mice can’t recognize that without guidance from the hippocampus

As novel sights become familiar, different brain rhythms, neurons take over

June 8, 2021
Research Findings
As ‘visual recognition memory’ emerges in visual cortex, one circuit of inhibitory neurons supplants another and slower neural oscillations prevail

As you look around, mental images bounce between right and left brain

February 8, 2021
Research Findings
New study explains how the brain helps us remember what we’ve seen, even as it shifts around in our visual system

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit that encodes timing of events

January 11, 2021
Research Findings
Findings suggest this hippocampal circuit helps us to maintain our timeline of memories.

Neuroscientists discover a molecular mechanism that allows memories to form

October 5, 2020
Research Findings
Modifications to chromosomes in “engram” neurons control the encoding and retrieval of memories

New trial to test brain wave stimulation as Alzheimer’s preventative

August 25, 2020
New Research
MIT, MGH join forces to test whether ‘GENUS’ stimulation of 40Hz rhythms can reduce disease pathology before onset of symptoms

Like a treasure map, brain region emphasizes reward location

June 1, 2020
Research Findings
Lateral septum encodes spatial information with a special emphasis on where the reward lies

Neuroscientists find memory cells that help us interpret new situations

April 6, 2020
Research Findings
Neurons that store abstract representations of past experiences are activated when a new, similar event takes place

With these neurons, extinguishing fear is its own reward

January 15, 2020
Research findings
The same neurons responsible for encoding reward also form new memories to suppress fearful ones

Engrams emerging as the basic unit of memory

January 2, 2020
Research Findings
Review in Science traces progress in studying the neural substrate for storing memories

Study probing visual memory, amblyopia unveils many-layered mystery

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

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"

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, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and McGovern Institute, Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Media Arts and Sciences, and Biological Engineering
Ed Boyden's group develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems.

Gloria Choi

Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
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

Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
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.

Sara Prescott

Assistant Professor of Biology
The Prescott Lab explores how visceral cues are transduced, encoded and addressed at internal barrier tissues like the airways

Steven Flavell

Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
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.

Research offers insights into mechanisms underlying bipolar mania, sleep homeostasis

November 23, 2022
Recent Events
At a press conference at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, young Picower scientist Takato Honda presented findings of key neurons involved in the neuropsychiatric disorder and sleep homeostasis

Building a bridge between neuroscience and immunology

October 14, 2022
Picower People
Gloria Choi’s studies of how the immune system and nervous system influence each other could yield new approaches to treating neurological disorders.

Celebrating 20 years of discovery, Picower Institute looks ahead to continuing impact

September 28, 2022
Recent Events
At an exhibition marking two decades since a transformative gift from The Picower Foundation, current and alumni members described research at the forefront of neuroscience and beyond

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

At a research forefront, young scholar looks ahead to graduate school, chance to mentor others

August 15, 2022
Picower People
As he works to solve an advanced problem at the intersection of computing and neurobiology, Picower Institute post-baccalaureate scholar Eric Bueno is also thinking of how he could pay his experience forward

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

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

New findings reveal how neurons build and maintain their capacity to communicate

July 20, 2022
Research Findings
Nerve cells regulate and routinely refresh the collection of calcium channels that enable them to send messages across circuit connections

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

Circuit that focuses attention brings in wide array of inputs

April 21, 2022
Research Findings
With a comprehensive map of the wiring, researchers can now discern what information flows into the circuit to enable a key brain 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

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

Feast or forage: Study finds circuit that helps a brain decide

November 22, 2021
Research Findings
By integrating multiple sensory inputs, a loop of mutual inhibition among a small set of neurons allows worms to switch between long-lasting behavioral states

Symposium spotlights crucial roles of dendrites

October 18, 2021
Recent Events
Scholars from around the world gathered online to share new research on how intricately structured neural processes enable plasticity of circuit connections and help integrate incoming information to enable brain function

'What Were you Thinking?'

September 20, 2021
Research Feature
How brain circuits integrate many sources of context to flexibly guide behavior

Behind the scenes, brain circuit ensures vision remains reliable

September 8, 2021
As mice watched movies, scientists watched their brains to see how vision could be represented reliably. The answer is that consistency in representation is governed by a circuit of inhibitory neurons

Grant to help scientists test whether brain region is a key locus of learning

July 23, 2021
New Research
Long thought of as a generic alarm system, the locus coeruleus may actually be a sophisticated regulator of learning and behavior, an MIT team posits

As novel sights become familiar, different brain rhythms, neurons take over

June 8, 2021
Research Findings
As ‘visual recognition memory’ emerges in visual cortex, one circuit of inhibitory neurons supplants another and slower neural oscillations prevail

Mice naturally engage in physical distancing, study finds

March 31, 2021
Research Findings
MIT neuroscientists have identified a brain circuit that stops mice from mating with others that appear to be sick

Study of synapse strength focuses on ‘active zones’

March 16, 2021
New Research
With new NIH grant, team will learn how neurons build key sites that release neurotransmitters a lot, or a little, to drive nervous system communication

Neural networks need more than neurons, new project posits

March 4, 2021
New Research
With a new grant from the U.S. Army, a team of scientists will seek to enhance artificial intelligence by integrating brain cells called astrocytes

Steven Flavell earns Sloan Research Fellowship

February 16, 2021
Picower People
Award supports fundamental research on how the brain generates internal states that guide animal behavior

As you look around, mental images bounce between right and left brain

February 8, 2021
Research Findings
New study explains how the brain helps us remember what we’ve seen, even as it shifts around in our visual system

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit that encodes timing of events

January 11, 2021
Research Findings
Findings suggest this hippocampal circuit helps us to maintain our timeline of memories.

Playing chess, not checkers: Neurons dynamically control their myelin patterns

December 18, 2020
Research Findings
Researchers identify a new level of complexity in how the brain responds to stimuli

Cortex over reflex: Study traces circuits where executive control overcomes instinct

November 30, 2020
Research Findings
Anterior cingulate cortex overrides reflexive inclination of the superior colliculus when rules reqiure

Scientists identify specific brain region and circuits controlling attention

November 2, 2020
Research Findings
Study shows that norepinephrine producing neurons in the locus coeruleus produce attention focus, impulse control via two distinct connections to prefrontal cortex

Brown wins SfN’s Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

October 26, 2020
Picower People
Award cites major contributions to statistical analysis of brain activity and advancing the neuroscience of anesthesia

Picower researcher earns BBRF Young Investigator grant

September 21, 2020
Picower People
Sur Lab postdoc Vincent Breton-Provencher will use award to study neurobiology underlying attention

Dopamine signaling allows neural circuits to generate coordinated behaviors

June 11, 2020
Research Findings
As part of study, team invents new open-source microscopy platform

Like a treasure map, brain region emphasizes reward location

June 1, 2020
Research Findings
Lateral septum encodes spatial information with a special emphasis on where the reward lies

McKnight Scholars Award supports Flavell lab’s gut-brain connection studies

May 28, 2020
Picower People
Award will help researchers understand how the body’s microbiome influences the brain

Neuroscientists find memory cells that help us interpret new situations

April 6, 2020
Research Findings
Neurons that store abstract representations of past experiences are activated when a new, similar event takes place

‘Researching from Home’: Picower science stays strong even at a distance

April 1, 2020
News Feature
Institute researchers are advancing their work in many ways despite time away from the lab required to corral Covid-19

Look and Learn: Studying the visual system

March 13, 2020
Research Feature
Research on how the brain processes sight has told neuroscientists much about how the brain works more broadly

With these neurons, extinguishing fear is its own reward

January 15, 2020
Research findings
The same neurons responsible for encoding reward also form new memories to suppress fearful ones

Engrams emerging as the basic unit of memory

January 2, 2020
Research Findings
Review in Science traces progress in studying the neural substrate for storing memories

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

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

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

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.

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

Analyzing brain waves demystifies general anesthesia

November 14, 2022
Recent Events
At Neuroscience 2022, Emery N. Brown relayed how statistical analysis of brain rhythms in patients and animals under anesthetics has revealed important information about how the drugs work.

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

A “golden era” to study the brain

October 4, 2022
Picower People
“We can’t think of the brain only as neurons,” says PhD student Mitch Murdock, who explores the cellular basis of Alzheimer’s disease

How the brain focuses on what’s in mind

September 5, 2022
Research Findings
When holding information in mind, neural activity is more focused when and where there are bursts of gamma frequency rhythms

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

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

Circuit model may explain how deep brain stimulation treats Parkinson’s disease symptoms

May 16, 2022
Research Findings
Stimulation of subthalamic nucleus interrupts a cycle of runaway beta-frequency rhythms and restores ability of interneurons to regulate rhythms in the brain’s striatum, improving movement, study suggests

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

Emery Brown earns AIMBE’s highest honor

March 25, 2022
Picower People
Pierre Galletti Award recognizes contributions to neural signal processing, anesthesiology advances

Research advances technology of AI assistance for anesthesiologists

February 2, 2022
Research Findings
A new deep learning algorithm trained to optimize doses of propofol to maintain unconsciousness during general anesthesia could augment patient monitoring

‘Traveling’ nature of brain waves may help working memory work

January 31, 2022
Research Findings
The act of holding information in mind is accompanied by coordination of rotating brain waves in the prefrontal cortex, a new study finds.

'What Were you Thinking?'

September 20, 2021
Research Feature
How brain circuits integrate many sources of context to flexibly guide behavior

Statistical model defines ketamine anesthesia’s effects on the brain

September 3, 2021
Research Findings
Neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a statistical framework that rigorously describes the brain state changes that patients experience under ketamine-induced anesthesia.

As novel sights become familiar, different brain rhythms, neurons take over

June 8, 2021
Research Findings
As ‘visual recognition memory’ emerges in visual cortex, one circuit of inhibitory neurons supplants another and slower neural oscillations prevail

New algorithms show accuracy, reliability in gauging unconsciousness under general anesthesia

May 6, 2021
Research Findings
Machine learning software advances could help anesthesiologists optimize drug dose

Anesthesia doesn't simply turn off the brain, it changes its rhythms

April 27, 2021
Research Findings
Simultaneous measurement of neural rhythms and spikes across five brain areas in animals reveals how propofol induces unconsciousness

As you look around, mental images bounce between right and left brain

February 8, 2021
Research Findings
New study explains how the brain helps us remember what we’ve seen, even as it shifts around in our visual system

Brain waves guide us in spotlighting surprises

November 23, 2020
Research Findings
The brain uses different frequency rhythms and cortical layers to suppress expected stimulation and increase activity for what’s novel

Statistical model improves analysis of skin conductance

October 5, 2020
Research Findings
By accounting for sweat physiology, method can make better use of electrodermal activity for tracking subconscious changes in physical or emotional state

As information flows through brain’s heirarchy, higher regions use higher frequency waves

September 8, 2020
Research Findings
Study also finds specific frequency bands associated with encoding, or inhibiting encoding, of sensory information across the cortex

New trial to test brain wave stimulation as Alzheimer’s preventative

August 25, 2020
New Research
MIT, MGH join forces to test whether ‘GENUS’ stimulation of 40Hz rhythms can reduce disease pathology before onset of symptoms

Scientists eager to explain brain rhythm boost’s broad impact in Alzheimer’s models

December 9, 2019
Research findings
Paper lays out new areas of investigation

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

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.

Grant to help scientists test whether brain region is a key locus of learning

July 23, 2021
New Research
Long thought of as a generic alarm system, the locus coeruleus may actually be a sophisticated regulator of learning and behavior, an MIT team posits

Like a treasure map, brain region emphasizes reward location

June 1, 2020
Research Findings
Lateral septum encodes spatial information with a special emphasis on where the reward lies

With these neurons, extinguishing fear is its own reward

January 15, 2020
Research findings
The same neurons responsible for encoding reward also form new memories to suppress fearful ones

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.

Bear elected member of National Academy of Medicine

October 17, 2022
Picower People
Academy recognizes Mark Bear’s influential fundamental research on how experience shapes the brain and its relevance to neurodevelopmental diseases.

To the clinic!

October 4, 2022
Research Feature
When fundamental research yields discoveries with medical potential, Picower Institute professors find ways to test whether they’ll help patients.

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

Behind the scenes, brain circuit ensures vision remains reliable

September 8, 2021
As mice watched movies, scientists watched their brains to see how vision could be represented reliably. The answer is that consistency in representation is governed by a circuit of inhibitory neurons

Novel approach reverses amblyopia in animals

September 1, 2021
Research Findings
By temporarily suspending retinal activity in the non-amblyopic eye of animal models, neuroscientists restrengthened the visual response in the amblyopic eye, even at ages after the critical period when patch therapy fails

Brain’s ‘memory center’ needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights

July 26, 2021
Research Findings
The visual cortex stores and remembers individual images, but when they are grouped into a sequence, mice can’t recognize that without guidance from the hippocampus

Bear earns amblyopia research award

June 28, 2021
Picower People
RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award will support efforts to develop new therapeutic approach

As novel sights become familiar, different brain rhythms, neurons take over

June 8, 2021
Research Findings
As ‘visual recognition memory’ emerges in visual cortex, one circuit of inhibitory neurons supplants another and slower neural oscillations prevail

As you look around, mental images bounce between right and left brain

February 8, 2021
Research Findings
New study explains how the brain helps us remember what we’ve seen, even as it shifts around in our visual system

Cortex over reflex: Study traces circuits where executive control overcomes instinct

November 30, 2020
Research Findings
Anterior cingulate cortex overrides reflexive inclination of the superior colliculus when rules reqiure

Brain waves guide us in spotlighting surprises

November 23, 2020
Research Findings
The brain uses different frequency rhythms and cortical layers to suppress expected stimulation and increase activity for what’s novel

Live imaging method brings structural information to mapping of brain function

September 17, 2020
Research Findings
Scientists distinguish brain regions based on what they do, but now have a new way to overlay information about how they are built

Look and Learn: Studying the visual system

March 13, 2020
Research Feature
Research on how the brain processes sight has told neuroscientists much about how the brain works more broadly

Study probing visual memory, amblyopia unveils many-layered mystery

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

Memory and its meaning

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

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.