A comprehensive brain map is one of the grand challenges of all neuroscience. The Obama administration acknowledged as much when they launched a $100-million program for 2014 to develop new technologies to image and manipulate neural circuits. Rafael Yuste, a pioneer in developing brain-imaging techniques, and George Church, a leader in the nascent field of synthetic biology, helped put forward ideas that led to Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or simply BRAIN. The “The Century of the Brain,” the March cover story in Scientific American describes some of the most advanced electronic and optical technologies that could help achieve a more incisive picture of brain circuitry. As a supplement to reading the article, watch this TEDMED video from last year—What Understanding the Brain Means to Science and Medicine—in which Yuste explains the rationale for building new tools to observe and tweak long chains of connected neurons.
This article was originally published with the title "A Look under the Hood: A New Tool Set for Neuroscientists [Video]" in Scientific American 310, 3, (March 2014)