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Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping

Alivisatos, A. Paul and Scherer, Axel and Roukes, Michael L. and Tsao, Doris Y. (2013) Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping. ACS Nano, 7 (3). pp. 1850-1866. ISSN 1936-0851. PMCID PMC3665747. doi:10.1021/nn4012847.

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Neuroscience is at a crossroads. Great effort is being invested into deciphering specific neural interactions and circuits. At the same time, there exist few general theories or principles that explain brain function. We attribute this disparity, in part, to limitations in current methodologies. Traditional neurophysiological approaches record the activities of one neuron or a few neurons at a time. Neurochemical approaches focus on single neurotransmitters. Yet, there is an increasing realization that neural circuits operate at emergent levels, where the interactions between hundreds or thousands of neurons, utilizing multiple chemical transmitters, generate functional states. Brains function at the nanoscale, so tools to study brains must ultimately operate at this scale, as well. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are poised to provide a rich toolkit of novel methods to explore brain function by enabling simultaneous measurement and manipulation of activity of thousands or even millions of neurons. We and others refer to this goal as the Brain Activity Mapping Project. In this Nano Focus, we discuss how recent developments in nanoscale analysis tools and in the design and synthesis of nanomaterials have generated optical, electrical, and chemical methods that can readily be adapted for use in neuroscience. These approaches represent exciting areas of technical development and research. Moreover, unique opportunities exist for nanoscientists, nanotechnologists, and other physical scientists and engineers to contribute to tackling the challenging problems involved in understanding the fundamentals of brain function.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Alivisatos, A. Paul0000-0001-6895-9048
Roukes, Michael L.0000-0002-2916-6026
Tsao, Doris Y.0000-0003-1083-1919
Additional Information:© 2013 American Chemical Society. Published In Issue March 26, 2013; Article ASAP March 20, 2013. We gratefully acknowledge the Kavli Foundation for support and encouragement of this initiative and the discussions that led up to it. The authors acknowledge helpful discussions with Prof. Adam Cohen, Dr. Tim Harris, Prof. John Rogers, and Dr. Alan Rudolph, as well as many of our colleagues. We thank Ms. Holly Bunje for help in preparing the manuscript.
Group:Kavli Nanoscience Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Kavli FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:3
PubMed Central ID:PMC3665747
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130506-105046416
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping A. Paul Alivisatos, Anne M. Andrews, Edward S. Boyden, Miyoung Chun, George M. Church, Karl Deisseroth, John P. Donoghue, Scott E. Fraser, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Loren L. Looger, Sotiris Masmanidis, Paul L. McEuen, Arto V. Nurmikko, Hongkun Park, Darcy S. Peterka, Clay Reid, Michael L. Roukes, Axel Scherer, Mark Schnitzer, Terrence J. Sejnowski, Kenneth L. Shepard, Doris Tsao, Gina Turrigiano, Paul S. Weiss, Chris Xu, Rafael Yuste, and Xiaowei Zhuang ACS Nano 2013 7 (3), 1850-1866 DOI: 10.1021/nn4012847
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38293
Deposited On:06 May 2013 20:09
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:36

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