From the Director Fall 2017 Issue 42

From the Director

Robert Desimone, Director of the McGovern Institute. Photo: Kent Dayton
Robert Desimone, Director of the McGovern Institute. Photo: Kent Dayton

We know a great deal about how the brain detects physical stimuli—light, sound, touch, and so on—but how we sense the passage of time is still largely mysterious. As you can read in this issue, Michale Fee and Mehrdad Jazayeri are tackling this question, and are starting to uncover brain circuits that measure time and control the timing of actions. The two groups are studying different species using different techniques, but Michale and Mehrdad both come from engineering backgrounds, and in both cases their work illustrates the power of combining experiments with computational models—a trend that is becoming increasingly important as we grapple with the brain’s enormous complexity.

In other news, we thank our longtime supporters Ted and Kay Poitras, who have made a new gift to support Ed Boyden’s work. Ed and his colleagues have recently developed a new method for noninvasive brain stimulation, with potential clinical applications for many different disorders. Ed’s original work was performed in mice, and the new funding will enable him to collaborate with clinical colleagues to begin testing in humans. Ed’s study was published only a few months ago, and Ted and Kay’s gift provides a wonderful example of how philanthropic support allows us to respond quickly to new opportunities as they arise.

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