Massively-Parallel, Three-Dimensional, Circuitwide Recording of Neural Activity

In order to understand how the brain works, we need to learn how the massively complex interactions of neurons compute information. This Allen Distinguished Investigator research project, conducted in collaboration with the Fonstad, Sarpeshkar, and Desimone Labs at MIT, is developing a system for three-dimensional, massively parallel recording of neural activity throughout the brain. It has devised hardware capable of picking up neural electrical activity from a large number of individual sites in the brain and constructed data-processing circuits. The last phase of the project will bring together the different parts of the project into an integrated system, enabling it to be used to survey brain-wide neural dynamics.

Affiliated Investigators

Ed Boyden, Ph.D.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ed Boyden is a 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 such as the brain, and applies them systematically to reveal ground truth principles of biological function as well as to repair these systems. These technologies, created often in interdisciplinary collaborations, include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light, and optical, nanofabricated, and robotic interfaces that enable recording and control of neural dynamics. He has launched an award-winning series of classes at MIT that teach principles of neuroengineering, starting with basic principles of how to control and observe neural functions, and culminating with strategies for launching companies in the nascent neurotechnology space. He also co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.

Amongst other recognitions, he has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013), the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013), the NIH Director's Transformative Research Award (twice, 2012 and 2013), and the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2011). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013), the Technology Review World’s "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006), and his work was included in Nature Methods "Method of the Year" in 2010.