Multielectrode arrayNeuroscientists and engineers are collaborating to build multielectrode arrays that can simultaneously record electrical signals from thousands of neurons. (Courtesy of imec)

The suite of tools scientists and clinicians use to study and treat the brain are called “neurotechnologies.” They range from the single electrodes that have been used for decades to record the electrical activity of a nerve cell to brain-machine interfaces that read patterns of brain activity to precisely guide artificial limbs. Scientists have been developing new neurotechnologies for decades but recent breakthroughs in other fields, especially genomics, nanoscience and physics, have led to an explosion of new tools. These include light-sensitive proteins that can turn brain cells on and off and new microscopes that can capture the activity of the entire nervous system of a fruit fly in real time.

Accelerating the development of new brain research tools is a central goal of the 12-year Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (as well as its precursor, the Brain Activity Map Project), launched in 2013 by President Obama. At the top of the tool list are brain mapping techniques with which researchers can monitor and manipulate ensembles of neurons, or circuits. Many neuroscientists expect that once they can monitor circuits, the level of organization at which our thoughts and actions arise, they will finally begin to understand how the brain functions and how it dysfunctions under certain conditions.

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 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

 Neurons in the retina
May 20, 2015

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.

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

Rafael Yuste
Dec 01, 2014

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.

It Takes the World to Map the Brain

Nov 15, 2014

Leaders from the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, Europe’s Human Brain Project and Japan’s Brain/MINDS discuss their ambitious projects, which are aimed at nothing less than transforming our understanding of the human brain.

The BRAIN Initiative: Surviving the Data Deluge

Brain chip
Sep 12, 2013

Mapping brain activity will produce nearly as much data as the Large Hadron Collider, yet managing the sheer volume of information will be the simplest challenge for brain data managers

UCSD Creates Center for Brain Activity Mapping: Interview with Director Ralph Greenspan

May 19, 2013

An interview with Ralph Greenspan as the University of California, San Diego announces a new Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM).


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