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

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.”

Featured Breakthrough

Enrichment and Child Brain Development

Berkeley anatomist Marian Diamond showed that early life experiences enhanced by environmental enrichment led to physical changes in the brain — such as a thicker cortex, higher ratio of glial cells to neurons, and denser networks of dendrites. Higher cognitive function seems to benefit from social and other stimulation, and pursuing mental challenges strengthens the immune system.

Featured Scholar

Michel Maharbiz

A Chan Zuckerberg Investigator, Michel Maharbiz creates next-generation neural interface technology — engineering radical data-gathering devices for use in the body. He is a co-inventor of Neural Dust: a platform for ultra-miniaturized, free-floating electrical sensors inserted into the brain for long-term recording of neural activity. This approach could overcome the obstacles and risks posed by current implant devices. 

We invite you to connect with the Berkeley Brain Initiative.

News

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.”

The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute has selected a multidisciplinary team of Berkeley scientists led by Markita Landry to receive the inaugural research award of the Radical Ideas in Brain Science Challenge. The winning team, which includes Linda Wilbrecht, Marla Feller, and Jose Carmena, will receive $300,000 in seed funding — made possible through the generosity of Andrea and Peter Roth, P’05 — to develop nanosensors to study how neuromodulators like dopamine affect our mood, attention, and behavior, in diseases such as Autism.

Alumnus Ron Hammer ’74 was inspired to pursue his interest and career in neurobiology by Berkeley anatomist Marian Diamond. To mark Diamond’s lasting legacy and inspire future brain scientists, Hammer and his spouse, neuropsychiatrist Sandra Jacobson, have committed a $2 million endowed fund for the Marian C. Diamond and Arnold B. Scheibel Chair in Neuroscience.