[Spectrum News, Peter Hess | March 23, 2023] Roughly 1 in 36 8-year-olds in the United States has autism, according to 2020 prevalence data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This figure represents a nearly 20 percent increase over the agency’s 2018 estimate of 1 in 44 and continues a decades-long […]

U.S. autism prevalence continues to rise as race and sex ...

[Picower News, David Orenstein | March 11, 2023] On March 10 the FDA approved Trofinetide, a drug based on the protein IGF-1, as the first drug available to treat Rett syndrome. The original research showing that IGF-1 could treat Rett syndrome was published by MIT in 2009. Rett syndrome is a […]

3 questions for Mriganka Sur: The basic research origin of ...

[Picower News, David Orenstein | March 10, 2023] When astrocyte function is disrupted, neurons in the brain’s motor cortex struggle to execute and refine motion, a new study in mice shows. From steering a car to swinging a tennis racket, we learn to execute all kinds of skilled movements during […]

Astrocyte cells critical for learning skilled movements

[Spectrum News, Shaena Montanari | March 2, 2023]   Margaret Brimble was a new professor in 1999 at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The country was not exactly known as a hotbed of drug development, but Brimble was an optimist, a dedicated chemist and maybe even a bit […]

Debut drug for Rett syndrome at edge of approval

The Simons Center for the Social Brain (SCSB) at MIT, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, is pleased to announce its renewal with a $25M commitment from SFARI (the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative) for the next five years. SCSB will continue to focus on understanding the neural mechanisms […]

Simons Center for the Social Brain at MIT Renewed with ...

[UMass Amherst News | January 13, 2023] Assistant Professor Siyuan Rao of the UMass Amherst Biomedical Engineering Department has received a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, or AFOSR, to study “Non-invasive Cell-type-specific Magnetic Neural Modulation,” a next-generation technique for investigating neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, addiction, […]

Siyuan Rao, past Simons Fellow, Receives Prestigious AFOSR Young Investigator ...

Built on recent advances in machine learning, the model predicts how well individuals will produce and comprehend sentences. [Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences | December 22, 2022] Cognitive scientists have long sought to understand what makes some sentences more difficult to comprehend than others. Any account of language comprehension, […]

Cognitive scientists develop new model explaining difficulty in language comprehension

[Spectrum News, Anila D’Mello | December 22, 2022] Listen to this story: How scientists can counteract their unwitting contributions to autism’s sex bias Audio Playe The amount of research dedicated to understanding autism has grown rapidly, with more than 50,000 papers about the condition published over the past decade alone. To […]

How scientists can counteract their unwitting contributions to autism’s sex ...

MIT researchers are discovering which parts of the brain are engaged when a person evaluates a computer program. [Steve Nadis | MIT CSAIL | December 21, 2022] Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures changes in blood flow throughout the brain, has been used over the past couple of decades for a […]

This is your brain. This is your brain on code

Researchers discover that to sharpen its control over precise maneuvers, the brain uses comparisons between control signals — not the signals themselves. [Kevin Hartnett | Quanta Magazine | November 28, 2022] A mouse is running on a treadmill embedded in a virtual reality corridor. In its mind’s eye, it sees […]

The Brain Uses Calculus to Control Fast Movements

Large scale ECoG recording during social scene watching and social behaviors in marmosets Authors: *H. Xu, Y. Su, J. Sharma, W. Menegas, C. Trimmer, F. Liang, R. Landman, B. Zhang, M. Sur, R. Saxe, G. Feng, R. Desimone Abstract: Humans can understand social scenes at a glance. Abilities such as […]

SCSB @ the 2022 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

Professors Mark Bear and Laura Kiessling ’83, along with Krishna Shenoy SM ’92, PhD ’95, David Tuveson ’87, and Martin Burke are among the newly elected members. On October 17, the National Academy of Medicine announced the election of 100 new members to join their esteemed ranks. MIT faculty members Laura […]

Five with MIT ties elected to the National Academy of ...

[Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | October 12, 2022] Gloria Choi’s studies of how the immune system and nervous system influence each other could yield new approaches to treating neurological disorders.   When Gloria Choi was making plans to launch her research lab at MIT, nearly 10 years ago, she thought […]

Building a bridge between neuroscience and immunology

[Emma Yasinski | Spectrum News | October 4, 2022] The Children’s Communication Checklist 2 (CCC-2) could help identify children with social-pragmatic communication difficulties, a new study has found. Although few children meet the diagnostic criteria for social (pragmatic) communication disorder (SCD) on its own, many with autism or other types of language problems also […]

Social-pragmatic difficulties common with autism, other diagnoses

Neurons derived from the cells of a person with fragile X syndrome develop atypically when transplanted into a mouse’s brain, a new study has found. Some of the differences replicate those seen in the brains of people with fragile X syndrome. Researchers have struggled to create mice that accurately model the condition, […]

Fragile X neurons develop atypically in chimeric mice

[Peter Hess | Spectrum News | September 14, 2022] A large mutation that leads to fragile X syndrome in people does not set off the same genetic cascade in mice, a new study shows. The work highlights the limitations of using mice to model the condition and the need to explore other model animals, […]

Largest-yet fragile X mutation in mice confirms model’s shortcomings

A commonly used screening test creates a gender gap that may hinder diagnosis and treatment for women and girls. [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | September 8, 2022] In recent years, researchers who study autism have made an effort to include more women and girls in their studies. However, despite these […]

Studies of autism tend to exclude women, researchers find

Using organoids to model early development, researchers used an emerging microscopy technology to see that new neurons struggled to reach their developmental destination. [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | August 3, 2022] Using an innovative microscopy method, scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT […]

Advanced imaging reveals mired migration of neurons in Rett syndrome ...

To ensure a quick halt, brain circuit architecture avoids a slow process of integration in favor of quicker differentiation, study finds. [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | July 28, 2022] Your new apartment is just a couple of blocks down the street from the bus stop, but today […]

Sprint then stop? The brain is wired for the math ...

Studying speakers of 45 languages, neuroscientists found similar patterns of brain activation and language selectivity. [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | July 18, 2022] Over several decades, neuroscientists have created a well-defined map of the brain’s “language network,” or the regions of the brain that are specialized for processing language. Found […]

Whether speaking Turkish or Norwegian, the brain’s language network looks ...

[Leah Campbell | Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences | June 21, 2022] A team of cognitive scientists and doctors finds that patients with aphasia use different cognitive tools to compensate for language deficits. Bruce Willis’s recent announcement that he was retiring from acting brought widespread public attention to the neurological condition […]

Study illuminates trade-off between complex words and complex sentences

[Anne Trafton | MIT News | June 1, 2022] Unexpected outcomes trigger release of noradrenaline, which helps the brain focus its attention and learn from the event. When your brain needs you to pay attention to something important, one way it can do that is to send out a burst of noradrenaline, […]

How the brain responds to surprising events

Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, May 25, 2022] Modeling study suggests that the muffled environment in utero primes the brain’s ability to interpret some types of sound. Inside the womb, fetuses can begin to hear some sounds around 20 weeks of gestation. However, the input they are exposed to is […]

Early sound exposure in the womb shapes the auditory system

Source: [Jason Sparapani | Department of Materials Science and Engineering | MIT News | May 13, 2022] Professor Polina Anikeeva’s innovation in the treatment of neurological disorders highlights the interdisciplinary nature of her field. A pivotal moment in Polina Anikeeva’s career was when she looked at an MRI scan of Parkinson’s disease […]

Is it neuroscience? Chemistry? Art? Wulff Lecture shows versatility, diversity ...

Source: [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | May 2, 2022] Innovative brain-wide mapping study shows that an “engram,” the ensemble of neurons encoding a memory, is widely distributed and includes regions not previously realized. A new study by scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at […]

A single memory is stored across many connected brain regions

Source: [MIT News Office | April 28, 2022] Prestigious honor society announces more than 250 new members. Seven MIT faculty members are among more than 250 leaders from academia, the arts, industry, public policy, and research elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the academy announced Thursday. One […]

Seven from MIT elected to American Academy of Arts and ...

Source: [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | April 28, 2022] Competitive seed grants launch yearlong investigations of novel hypotheses about potential causes, biomarkers, treatments of Alzheimer’s and ALS. Neurodegenerative diseases are defined by an increasingly widespread and debilitating death of nervous system cells, but they also share other […]

Aging Brain Initiative awards fund five new ideas to study, ...

Source: [McGovern News | Jennifer Michalowski | April 26, 2022] From search engines to voice assistants, computers are getting better at understanding what we mean. That’s thanks to language processing programs that make sense of a staggering number of words, without ever being told explicitly what those words mean. Such programs infer […]

What words can convey

With a comprehensive map of the wiring, researchers can now discern what information flows into the circuit to enable a key brain function Source: [David Orenstein | Picower Institute | April 21, 2022] In a new brain-wide circuit tracing study, scientists at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory focused selective attention […]

Circuit that focuses attention brings in wide array of inputs

When artificial intelligence is tasked with visually identifying objects and faces, it assigns specific components of its network to face recognition — just like the human brain. Source: [Jennifer Michalowski | McGovern Institute for Brain Research | April 6, 2022] The human brain seems to care a lot about faces. It’s dedicated […]

An optimized solution for face recognition

These cells, located in the brain’s striatum, appear to help with decision-making that requires evaluating risks and benefits. Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | March 24, 2022] When we make complex decisions, we have to take many factors into account. Some choices have a high payoff but carry potential risks; […]

Study finds neurons that encode the outcomes of actions

Tracing connections between neuron populations could help researchers map brain circuits that underlie behavior and perception. Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | March 3, 2022] Using a novel probe for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), MIT biological engineers have devised a way to monitor individual populations of neurons and reveal […]

New MRI probe can reveal more of the brain’s inner ...

Source: [Picower News, David Orenstein | February 28, 2022] National Institute recognizes innovations and research elucidating neuronal plasticity and computations The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has elected Mriganka Sur, Newton Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT to its College of Fellows. Peers […]

Mriganka Sur elected to the 2022 class of the AIMBE ...

Professor and cognitive neuroscientist recognized for groundbreaking work on the functional organization of the human brain. Source: [Julie Pryor | McGovern Institute for Brain Research | January 31, 2022] The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has announced that Nancy Kanwisher, the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive […]

Nancy Kanwisher wins National Academy of Sciences Award in the ...

Sharing food and kissing are among the signals babies use to interpret their social world, according to a new study. Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office | January 20, 2022] Learning to navigate social relationships is a skill that is critical for surviving in human societies. For babies and young children, […]

Babies can tell who has close relationships based on one ...

Source: [Spectrum News, Sarah Deweerdt | November 15, 2021] Since sensory differences became part of the diagnostic criteria for autism in 2013, an increasing number of autism researchers have been drawn to the thalamus, the egg-shaped sensory relay station nestled deep in the brain. The flurry of interest has built […]

Brain’s sensory switchboard has complex connections to autism

Made of components found in the human body, the programmable system is a step toward safer, targeted delivery of gene editing and other molecular therapeutics. Source: [Broad Institute | August 19, 2021] The following press release was issued by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Researchers from MIT, the […]

Scientists harness human protein to deliver molecular medicines to cells

Source: [Picower News | May 10, 2021] Surprising findings can help improve organoid cultures, explain role of GSK3-beta in brain development Like many around the world, the lab of Professor Mriganka Sur in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT has embraced the young technology of cerebral organoids, or “minibrains,” […]

In ‘minibrains,’ hindering key enzyme by different amounts has opposite ...

Small device contains wells to let small bits of tissue grow, develop, and be studied in real time Source: [Picower News | April 7, 2021] Scientists from The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have grown small amounts of self-organizing brain […]

Tiny brains grown in 3D-printed bioreactor

MIT neuroscientists have identified a brain circuit that stops mice from mating with others that appear to be sick. Source: [MIT News Office, Ann Trafton | March 31, 2021] When someone is sick, it’s natural to want to stay as far from them as possible. It turns out this is […]

Mice naturally engage in physical distancing, study finds

Research on mice suggests aging affects a brain circuit critical for learning to make some types of decisions. Source: [MIT News Office, Anne Trafton | October 27, 2020] As people age, they often lose their motivation to learn new things or engage in everyday activities. In a study of mice, […]

Study helps explain why motivation to learn declines with age

Source: [The Picower Institute News | September 17, 2020] To understand the massive capabilities and complexities of the brain, neuroscientists segment it into regions based on what they appear to do—like processing what we sense or how to move. What’s been lacking, however, is an ability to tie those functional […]

Live imaging method brings structural information to mapping of brain ...

Source: [Spectrum, Angie Voyles Askham | August 27, 2020] Problems with the formation of DNA-filled droplets that control gene expression may contribute to Rett syndrome, a new study suggests1. Droplets routinely form throughout cells, akin to drops of oil in water, to compartmentalize molecules for various purposes, including the regulation of gene […]

DNA droplets may be key to Rett syndrome, researchers say

New analysis could help uncover potential drug targets for attention deficits and sensory hypersensitivity. Source: [MIT News Office, Anne Trafton | July 22, 2020] Many people with autism experience sensory hypersensitivity, attention deficits, and sleep disruption. One brain region that has been implicated in these symptoms is the thalamic reticular […]

Mapping the brain’s sensory gatekeeper

Source: [Spectrum, Angie Voyles Askham | July 10, 2020] An experimental drug prevents seizures and improves memory in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, according to a new study1. The drug selectively blocks an enzyme that is overactive in the brains of people with fragile X and could offer […]

Selective enzyme blocker eases fragile X traits in mice

Picower Institute researchers are advancing their work in many ways despite time away from the lab required to corral Covid-19. Source: [ David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, April 7, 2020] With all but a skeleton crew staying home from each lab to minimize the spread of […]

Researching from home: Science stays social, even at a distance

Source: [Spectrum, Sarah Deweerdt | March 19, 2020] Elise Robinson’s newest office mates are a ficus tree, its broad variegated leaves enjoying the light from a narrow window, and a pair of small succulents perched one above the other at the edges of bookshelves. And these are just a fraction of […]

Elise Robinson: Untangling the roots of cause and effect

Power play: Some babies with autism show unusually steep increases over time in the power of delta waves. courtesy of Laurel Gabard-Durnam Source: [Spectrum, Nicole Wetsman | October 16, 2019] Brain activity patterns in the first year of life may predict autism in infants at high risk for the condition, a new […]

Certain patterns of brain waves in babies may forecast autism

Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, October 9, 2019] Fluorescent probe could allow scientists to watch circuits within the brain and link their activity to specific behaviors. Using a fluorescent probe that lights up when brain cells are electrically active, MIT and Boston University researchers have shown that they […]

New method visualizes groups of neurons as they compute

Brain and cognitive sciences professor studies how the human mind is able to learn so rapidly. Source: [Anne Trafton  | MIT News Office, September 25, 2019] Josh Tenenbaum, a professor in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences who studies human cognition, has been named a recipient of a 2019 […]

Josh Tenenbaum receives 2019 MacArthur Fellowship