Brain cellsThe human brain contains an estimated 100 billion nerve cells (blue), as well as support cells known as glia (red and green). Neuroscientists are striving to understand how these cells are born, grow, connect and work together to give rise to our thoughts and actions. (Credit: NICHD/J. Cohen)

Neuroscience seeks to understand the most complex biological structure in the Universe, with an estimated 100 billion brain cells, or neurons, and trillions of connections between them. To make sense of the brain’s complexity, neuroscientists draw on expertise from numerous fields, including biology, physics and computer science, neurology, psychology and even philosophy. Some of the main questions they are trying to answer are: How does the brain, in which networks of cells course with electrical and chemical signals, give rise to the mind? How does the brain compute? How do we learn and remember (See "Memory")? What is the biological basis of language (See "Language")?  And what causes psychiatric and neurological illnesses (See “Brain diseases & disorders”)?

Many neuroscientists feel the field is entering a new era, spurred by new technologies and techniques (See “Neurotechnology”) with which they can finally explore the working brain and begin to answer these questions. Hand in hand with this is a surge of interest in the field among graduate students, funding agencies as well as philanthropists and private enterprises. And, since 2013, a handful of big science project have launched to study the brain including the European Commission’s Human Brain Project to create a supercomputer simulation of the human brain and the U.S. Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (See “BRAIN Initiative”) to develop new brain research tools, along with smaller efforts in Japan, Israel and China.

Spotlight Live: A Call for 'Brain Observatories'

Oct 14, 2015

How should the BRAIN Initiative evolve to unite and synergize the hundreds of individual laboratories it currently funds? Six researchers now propose a national network of neurotechnology centers, or “brain observatories.” Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, Michael Roukes and Rafael Yuste — four of the paper’s authors — answer your questions about this new idea and how it might affect the future of neuroscience.

A Roundtable with the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience

Oct 01, 2015

Loren Frank and Roger Nicoll, co-directors of Kavli IFN, discuss their new institute at the University of California, San Francisco, which aims to tackle the hardest problems in neuroscience.

A Roundtable with the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute

Oct 01, 2015

By integrating neuroscience, engineering and data science, the new Kavli Institute at Johns Hopkins University aims to fuel new discoveries about how the brain functions. A discussion with Director Richard Huganir and Co-director Michael Miller.

A Roundtable with the Kavli Neural Systems Institute

Oct 01, 2015

Rockefeller University's new Kavli Institute will invest in the best ideas and brightest investigators to answer the most important questions in neuroscience. A discussion with the co-directors, Cori Bargmann and Jeffrey Friedman, and the associate director, Leslie Vosshall.

The Nose Knows

Jul 29, 2015
KITP Deputy Director Greg Huber, neuroscientist Anne-Marie Oswald and biologist Venkatesh Murthy. Photo Credit: Matt Perko

Collaboration among international scientists at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics is helping to resolve questions about the sense of smell.

The Future of Neurotechnology: A Roundtable Discussion

May 20, 2015

Four Kavli neuroscientists — Rafael Yuste, Ken Shepard, Liam Paninski and Darcy Peterka, from Columbia University — reflect on the major obstacles in brain research today and the remarkable new technologies that may soon overcome them.

Kavli Futures Symposium: Meet the Toolmakers

May 20, 2015
 Neurons in the retina

Late last year, some of the nation’s top neuroscientists and tech innovators gathered in New York to talk shop at a Kavli Futures Symposium. By the end of the event, the future of neurotechnology never looked so bright.

Microbiome and Neuroscience: The Mind-Bending Power of Bacteria

Jan 08, 2015
Gut lining

Our bodies are home to a vast ecosystem of microbes – the microbiome – that has a powerful effect on the brain. Three researchers, Tracy Bale, Christopher Lowry and Sarkis Mazmanian, discuss the emerging gut-microbiome-brain connection and whether microbes may help us treat brain disorders.

Spotlight Live: The Microbiome & the Brain - A New State of Mind

Jan 08, 2015

On January 15, neuroscientist Christopher Lowry discussed the emerging science, that's connecting the microbiome – the community of microbes that inhabit the body – with brain health including whether we can treat common brain disorders through the gut.

The NeuroTechnology Center Launches at Columbia: Interview with Director Rafael Yuste

Dec 01, 2014
Rafael Yuste

Neuroscience is in the midst of a technological leap that is enabling researchers to study the brain in unprecedented detail. With the launch last month of the NeuroTechnology Center, Columbia University has officially joined the neurotechnology race.


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