News


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


Whitehead Institute team finds drugs that activate a key brain gene; initial tests in cells and mice show promise for rare, untreatable neurodevelopmental disorder. Source: [Nicole Davis  | MIT News Office, July 31, 2019] A research team led by Whitehead Institute scientists has identified 30 distinct chemical compounds — 20 […]

Speeding up drug discovery for brain diseases




Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, June 12, 2019] Neuroscientists trace a brain circuit that filters unwanted sensory input. Imagine trying to focus on a friend’s voice at a noisy party, or blocking out the phone conversation of the person sitting next to you on the bus while you […]

How we tune out distractions


Source: [Spectrum, Jessica Wright | June 12, 2019] Researchers have engineered two generations of monkeys with mutations in SHANK3, a top autism gene. The first generation shows traits reminiscent of the condition, according to a study published today in Nature1. The researchers are the first to engineer monkeys using the gene-editing tool CRISPR and […]

Monkeys with autism mutation show condition’s key traits


Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, April 22, 2019] Mouse study yields insights into the rare condition, may shed light on other neurological disorders. Williams Syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 1 in 10,000 babies born in the United States, produces a range of symptoms including cognitive […]

Neuroscientists reverse some behavioral symptoms of Williams Syndrome



Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, February 22, 2019] Noninvasive measurements of calcium could reveal neurons’ roles in different types of behavior. Calcium is a critical signaling molecule for most cells, and it is especially important in neurons. Imaging calcium in brain cells can reveal how neurons communicate with […]

New MRI sensor can image activity deep within the brain


Members have made advances in molecular processes, rheology, computer networking, nanocrystalline metals, affective computing, and semiconductor tech. Source: [MIT News, School of Engineering | February 11, 2019] Six MIT researchers are among the 86 new members and 18 foreign associates elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Election to the National Academy of […]

Rosalind Picard is among six MIT researchers elected to the ...


Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, January 17, 2019] New 3-D imaging technique can reveal, much more quickly than other methods, how neurons connect throughout the brain. Researchers have developed a new way to image the brain with unprecedented resolution and speed. Using this approach, they can locate individual […]

Mapping the brain at high resolution



Source: [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, January 15, 2019] Research by neuroscientists at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal. The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver’s license. As you start […]

Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your ...


Source: [David Orenstein | Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, January 11, 2019] Substantial refinements of three-photon microscopy allow for novel discoveries in neuroscience. Just like doctors seek to scan deeper into the body with sonograms, CT, and MRI, and astronomers seek to look farther out into the universe with space-based telescopes, adaptive […]

Scope advance gives first look through all cortical layers of ...


Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, November 27, 2018] Snippets of RNA that accumulate in brain cells could interfere with normal function. As we age, neurons in our brains can become damaged by free radicals. MIT biologists have now discovered that this type of damage, known as oxidative stress, […]

Biologists discover an unusual hallmark of aging in neurons



Source: [by Rosalind Picard, Ognjen Rudovic | Spectrum, Opinion, November 13, 2018] In science-fiction movies such as “Star Wars” and “WALL-E,” futuristic robots engage in smooth social interaction and even fall in love. These Hollywood depictions remain a fantasy, but a growing number of robots with limited skills, from Roomba vacuum […]

Intelligent robots could prove to be a boon for autism ...


Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, November 7, 2018] Neuroscientists discover a circuit that helps redirect attention to focus on potential threats. Imagine a herd of deer grazing in the forest. Suddenly, a twig snaps nearby, and they look up from the grass. The thought of food is forgotten, […]

Dopamine primes the brain for enhanced vigilance


Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, October 22, 2018] Technique could be used to detect light or electrical fields in living tissue. Researchers commonly study brain function by monitoring two types of electromagnetism — electric fields and light. However, most methods for measuring these phenomena in the brain are very […]

Monitoring electromagnetic signals in the brain with MRI