International Brain Lab

  • Awardees
  • Anne K. Churchland, Ph.D. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Larry Abbott, Ph.D. Columbia University
  • Dora Angelaki, Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine
  • Matteo Carandini, Ph.D. University College London
  • Yang Dan, Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
  • Peter Dayan, Ph.D. University College London
  • Ila Fiete, Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin
  • Surya Ganguli, Ph.D. Stanford University
  • Kenneth Harris, Ph.D. University College London
  • Michael Hausser, Ph.D. University College London
  • Sonja Hofer, Ph.D. University College London
  • Peter Latham, Ph.D. University College London
  • Zachary Mainen, Ph.D. Fundação Champalimaud
  • Thomas Mrsic-Flogel, Ph.D. University College London
  • Liam Paninski, Ph.D. Columbia University
  • Jonathan Pillow, Ph.D. Princeton University
  • Alexandre Pouget, Ph.D. University of Geneva
  • Karel Svoboda, Ph.D. Janelia Research Campus
  • Ilana Witten, Ph.D. Princeton University
  • Anthony Zador, Ph.D. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

A central goal of neuroscience is to decode the brain activity responsible for decisions and actions. Imagine an animal foraging for food. First, the animal needs to evaluate sensory signals in its environment to judge which foods are currently available. Then, the animal must decide which of the available food choices will be the most rewarding and make a plan for action. The neural mechanisms supporting that seemingly simple process are frighteningly complex. Until very recently, the field has lacked the tools to read out neural activity at the scale necessary to understand even the simplest choices. A recent explosion in new techniques and accompanying mathematical advances has opened a window into how the brain makes choices. But a serious challenge remains. Harnessing these new tools effectively is beyond the reach of any single laboratory. While individual labs have made significant advances, the piecemeal approach has so far made it difficult for scientists to compare and reproduce each other’s data. The International Brain Lab, a joint effort funded by the Simons Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, will combine the efforts of 20 laboratories worldwide to focus on a single goal: to determine how the brain functions during a simple decision in a mouse. The mouse will be trained to make decisions about visual stimuli while we measure neural activity brain-wide. We will make precise electrical recordings of hundreds of neurons from many brain areas and use sophisticated microscopes to directly observe the brain in action. Leading computational neuroscientists will develop mathematical and computer models of this brain activity. We hope not only to discover how brains support decision-making in any animal, humans included, but also to offer a new large-scale, collaborative model for brain science.

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