Columbia UniversityKavli Institute for Brain Science

Exploring the complex network of brain cells and their connections

The Kavli Institute for Brain Science (KIBS) uses advanced imaging technology to observe neurons, synapses, and neural circuits as they develop and function, and as they respond to learning. Researchers examine the brain at the cellular, molecular, and systems level to understand how the nerve cells of neural circuits connect during development to control behavior, and how these neural circuits perform and are modified by learning and memory.

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Daphna Shohamy

Co-Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science

Larry Abbott

Co-Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science


  • Mechanisms that specify the identity of neurons and how they form their connections to give rise to neural circuitry during the development of the nervous system.
  • The cellular functioning of the olfactory system, which processes the activity patterns of individual sensory neurons to produce the extraordinarily precise mammalian sense of smell.
  • The physiology of cognitive processes such as visual attention, spatial perception, and decision-making.
  • Anatomical changes in the brain, such as the growth of synapses, that occur during the learning process.
  • Learning-related changes in signaling strength between synapses in the hippocampus, a region crucial to memory and one of the first parts of the brain to suffer damage with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of brain circuitry, with an eye toward clinical applications for personalized medicine.

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At Kavli Institutes around the world, scientists explore the frontiers of science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

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