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 […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Working with an extraordinary array of tools -- from 3-D printers to lasers to flasks of algae -- Ed Boyden is creating new brains. A pioneer in the field of optogenetics, he is the founder and principal investigator of the synthetic neurobiology group at MIT.
Using a combination of lasers and genetic engineering, he implants brains with optical fibers that allow him to activate special proteins in specific neurons and see their connections. In addition to helping create detailed maps of brain circuitry, the engineering of these cells has been used to cure blindness in mice, and could point the way to cures for Parkinsons or Alzheimers, or to ways of connecting to the brain via prosthetics.
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
Ed Boyden on the TED Blog
Here, some staff picks of smart, funny, bizarre and cool stuff on the interwebs this week. First, happy (late) World Poetry Day! Celebrate the occasion with 8 talks from spoken-word poets. Just when you thought Vijay Kumar’s robots that fly and cooperate were creepy enough, he and his team have developed a drone that can […]Continue reading