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A professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences, Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Why you should listen

The group develops technologies to reveal how cognition and emotion arise from brain networks -- and to enable repair of disorders such as epilepsy and PTSD. These technologies are often created through interdisciplinary collaborations, using an array of methods from 3D printers to lasers. Boyden’s team has devised optogenetic tools which make possible the activation and silencing of neural activity with light, as well as optical, nanofabricated and robotic interfaces that allow the recording and control of neural dynamics. Boyden is a pioneer of expansion microscopy, a new approach for imaging complex biological systems such as the brain in fine detail by physically making them bigger through a chemical process that preserves their nanoscale isotropy (uniformity).

What others say

“Boyden was borrowing genes from the algae he was holding in the green flask. If he succeeds, people will become part machine, and part algae too.” — Carl Zimmer, Scientific American

Ed Boyden’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Ed Boyden


Red light, brain probes and the future: An enlightening conversation

February 21, 2014

Ed Boyden is the head of the Synthetic Neurobiology group at the MIT Media Lab, where he works on tools to map, control, record — and maybe even someday build — the brain. Boyden has worked on optogenetics, a technique which deploys light-sensitive molecules to the brain and then applies light to them to “turn […]

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