Michael RoukesCalifornia Institute of Technology
Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
Although our understanding of the properties of individual neurons and their role in brain computations has advanced significantly over the past several decades, we are still far from elucidating how complex assemblies of neurons — that is, brain circuits — interact to process information. In 2011, six U.S. scientists from different disciplines banded together, outlined a vision , and convinced the Obama administration of the unprecedented opportunity that exists to launch a coordinated, large-scale international effort to map brain activity. This culminated in the U.S. BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), which was launched in 2013. Their perspective was predicated, in part, on the current level of maturity of diverse fields of nanotechnology and silicon very-large-scale integration (VLSI), which can now be coalesced to create unprecedented tools for massively-parallel interrogation of brain activity.
In this lecture, Michael Roukes will outline the immense complexity of such pursuits and the hopes that were originally articulated and survey the existing technological landscape to assemble the requisite instrumentation. Focus will then turn to ongoing collaborative efforts toward new tools for massively multiplexed, multi-physical interrogation of brain activity. Opportunities for realizing this vision within the new field termed integrated neurophotonics will be described; it leverages advances in integrated nanophotonics, optogenetic reporters and effectors for neural recording and stimulation, and recent developments in implantable, multi-site neural nanoprobes based on silicon VLSI.
 Alivisatos A.P., Chun M., Church G.M., Greenspan R.J., Roukes M.L., Yuste R., The Brain Activity Map project and the challenge of functional connectomics. Neuron 74, 970-4 (2012).