Synthetic Neurobiology: Towards Engineering Brain Circuits for Health and Human Augmentation

Location: Marina Ballroom D Level: Novice

In this talk, Ed Boyden will describe some inventions that his group at the MIT
Media Lab is working on, that allow us to control brain circuits with great precision. He will also explore how these new tools may help cure intractable neurological and psychiatric disorders, and to augment human emotional and cognitive functions.

Photo of Ed Boyden

Ed Boyden

MIT Media Lab & Dept. of Biological Engineering

Ed Boyden invents and applies tools for the analysis and engineering of brain circuits in humans and research animals. He is developing new strategies for systematically repairing brain pathologies, such as epilepsy, anxiety, and Parkinson’s disease, and also for augmenting cognition in diseases like Alzheimer’s. His research integrates nanotechnological, molecular, optical, and other technologies into interfaces for the precise control of neural circuit dynamics and function. He and his colleagues have created a genetically targeted way to activate and inactivate neurons using millisecond-timescale pulses of light. This innovation is now in widespread use.

Dr. Boyden is the Benesse Career Development Professor at the MIT Media Lab, in the MIT Department of Biological Engineering, and the MIT McGovern Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University in 2005. He holds a double B.S. in Physics and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. In 2006 he was named one of the world’s top 35 innovators under age 35 by Technology Review magazine. In 2007, he received a Wallace H. Coulter Early Career Award, an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, for his work on optical control of neurons.


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