Research



The long-term mission of the McGovern Institute is to understand the most complex of all organs, the brain. A deeper knowledge of the human brain will have profound implications, both for our understanding of our own minds and for the treatment of the many brain diseases that lead to so much human suffering.

Understanding how the brain gives rise to the mind represents a great scientific challenge, and the answers will not come through any single approach or technique in isolation. A multidisciplinary effort is needed, and research at the McGovern Institute employs the full range of modern neuroscience techniques, from molecular genetics to functional neuroimaging, and computational modeling. Our experimental subjects range from human volunteers to worms, and the emphasis is not on any particular technique or species, but rather on choosing whatever system is best suited to answering a given question.

Our research is organized around three broad themes: Perception, Cognition, and Action. Together these themes correspond to the flow of information through the brain, from the sensory systems that receive and interpret stimuli from the external world, to the higher regions that underlie cognition, and finally to the motor systems that control our actions.

Each of the McGovern Institute’s faculty members is the leader of a research team, and the Institute as a whole comprises a community of more than 200 researchers and support staff. There is a strong commitment to collaborative research, both within the Institute and with other researchers at MIT and beyond. In particular, our strong connections to local hospitals enable us to work with human patients as well as healthy subjects, and to bridge the gap from basic neuroscience research to clinical applications.

Image: Justin Knight Photography