Connecting the Brain and the Mind

The human brain has the power to imagine and create. It can fuel astonishing achievements or fail from devastating ailments. So much is at stake in discovering how this unique organ lets us experience the world. Leveraging UC Berkeley’s world-leading research excellence across all relevant disciplines, the Berkeley Brain Initiative convenes exceptional minds to spark breakthrough knowledge and to spawn transformative technologies. Our ultimate goal: to unlock the secrets of how the human brain gives rise to the mind.

Breaking News

A new $20 million matching gift from the Hellman family will double the number of early-career faculty fellowships available through the program they founded in 1995.  Ehud Isacoff, director of Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the new Berkeley Brain Initiative, was among the first cohort to receive a fellowship in 1995. Today, he is considered a world leader in the burgeoning field of neurotechnology and is a principal investigator on a $27.6 million federal grant to illuminate new directions in implantable brain-computer interfaces that may one day treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, blindness and paralysis.

Professor Ehud Isacoff

Featured Breakthrough

Restoring Vision

Photoswitches, synthesized light-sensitive chemicals and proteins that turn cell activity on or off when exposed to light, were developed at Berkeley. This research tool holds clinical promise for treating retinal blindness by returning light sensitivity to damaged eyes.

Featured Scholar

Jack Gallant

Jack Gallant uses functional MRI and computational modeling to create anatomical and functional maps of the human brain, revealing the substrate on which all cognitive functions are built. This reverse engineering approach produces maps of unprecedented detail and fidelity that can be used to decode brain activity under naturalistic conditions, such as reconstructing previously seen images or recovering internal speech. 

We invite you to connect with the Berkeley Brain Initiative.

News

UC Berkeley is partnering with the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle on a five-year effort to count, catalog and connect the many different cell types in the mouse brain, as a foundation for doing the same for the human brain. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Allen Institute-led consortium represents an international team of scientists that will construct a comprehensive whole-brain atlas of cell types, essentially a parts list of the mouse brain.

Professor Ehud Isacoff

A new $20 million matching gift from the Hellman family will double the number of early-career faculty fellowships available through the program they founded in 1995.  Ehud Isacoff, director of Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the new Berkeley Brain Initiative, was among the first cohort to receive a fellowship in 1995. Today, he is considered a world leader in the burgeoning field of neurotechnology and is a principal investigator on a $27.6 million federal grant to illuminate new directions in implantable brain-computer interfaces that may one day treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, blindness and paralysis.

Berkeley was awarded a new $13.43 million BRAIN Initiative grant from the National Institutes of Health to build the next generation of functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI by 2019.  The NexGen 7T will provide the highest resolution images of the brain ever obtained, able to focus on a region the size of a poppy seed.  Lead researcher David Feinberg notes, “The much higher resolution imaging will overcome size barriers in imaging the cortex and should lead to new discoveries in the human brain, hopefully with major medical impact.