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Listening to Neurons

A chunk of living human brain arrives at the Harnett Lab, marking the start of an epic session recording the brain’s internal dialogue.

McGovern Investigator Mark Harnett asks a deceptively simple question: Are the brain cells of rodents really equivalent to those of humans? Researchers have generally assumed that they are similar, but no one has studied the question in depth. To answer this question, Harnett embarks on his “Holy Grail Experiment” – which involves transporting pieces of human brain from Massachusetts General Hospital to MIT and recording as much of the brain’s internal dialogue before the tissue dies. Logistics are challenging, but the results may answer fundamental questions about how the brain’s basic calculations lead to the experience of daily life.

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