Funded Awards

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Investigator
Desimone, Robert
Institute
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Year Funded
2014
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
  • Human Neuroscience
Summary
Dr. Desimone's project will access the brain through its network of blood vessels to less invasively image, stimulate and monitor electrical and molecular activity than existing methods.
Investigator
Cummings, Kirstie Alyssa
Institute
Icahn School Of Medicine At Mount Sinai
Year Funded
2019
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Cell Type
  • Circuit Diagrams
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Theory & Data Analysis Tools
Summary

Traumatic events can result in anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a hallmark of which is amplified expression of fear and resistance to behavioral therapies. While the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is thought to have a fear-inhibiting role, activity in its subregions is also elevated in many PTSD patients. To understand this functional dichotomy, Dr. Cummings will investigate the mechanisms by which vmPFC subregions encode learned fear by using a range of approaches, including calcium imaging, circuit tracing, in vivo optogenetic manipulation, and ex vivo electrophysiology in mice. Success of the project should result in characterization of the role of vmPFC in the regulation of fear memory, which may inform existing models of fear circuitry and help elucidate the mechanisms that are recruited in fear learning.

Investigator
Euler, Thomas Huberman, Andrew D Meister, Markus Seung, Hyunjune Sebastian (contact) Wong, Rachel O
Institute
Princeton University
Year Funded
2014
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Cell Type
  • Circuit Diagrams
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Theory & Data Analysis Tools
Summary
Dr. Seung and colleagues Thomas Euler (U Tübingen), Andrew Huberman (UC San Diego), Markus Meister (Caltech), and Rachel Wong (UW Seattle) will use state-of-the-art genetic, electrophysiological, and imaging tools to map the connectivity of the retina, the light-sensing tissue in the eye. The goal is to delineate all the retina's neural circuits and define their specific roles in visual perception and behavior.
Investigator
Reid, R Clay
Institute
Allen Institute
Year Funded
2017
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Integrated Approaches
Summary
A fundamental unanswered question in neuroscience is how specific connections between neurons underlie information processing. Clay Reid and colleagues will study the functional logic of wiring within three cortical areas: the primary visual cortex, and the anterolateral and posteromedial visual areas, before examining the functional logic of connections between these areas. Inter-neuron connections will be determined by using a modified virus that specifically labels ensembles of neurons, all of which connect with a single pre-designated target neuron. The team will then use two-photon calcium imaging to make movies of each neuron's activity in response to carefully-chosen visual stimuli. The approaches developed here may improve researchers’ ability to study the relationship between altered inter-neuron connections and neurological and psychiatric functional deficits.
Investigator
Bulte, Jeff W
Institute
Hugo W. Moser Res Inst Kennedy Krieger
Year Funded
2015
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
  • Human Neuroscience
Summary
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive method of measuring neuronal activity in the human brain that has high temporal resolution but poor spatial resolution, making it difficult for researchers to know which area of the brain is generating the measured signals. Bulte and colleagues propose to demonstrate that by loading red blood cells with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, local tissue conductivity can be manipulated by orienting the blood cells in an oscillating magnetic field. The new method, termed "VIBE" (Virtual Brain Electrode), would enable researchers to more precisely localize the source of an EEG signal within the brain, and help advance our understanding of how the brain works as well as be used as a tool to diagnose brain disorders.
Investigator
Niell, Cristopher M
Institute
University Of Oregon
Year Funded
2019
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Integrated Approaches
Summary

Studying how the brain processes visual information in a natural environment can be tricky because researchers cannot exactly see what a freely moving subject is seeing. The Niell group aims to address this problem by developing a head-mounted, dual miniature camera system that aims to simultaneously capture an animal subject’s visual scenery while also recording the subject’s corresponding eye positions.. Combining this data may help the researchers approximate what an animal saw so that they can compare the scenery to corresponding neural activity in the brain. The Niell group plans to test this system on freely moving and head fixed animals. The results may help researchers understand how a brain encodes visual information under more natural conditions.

Investigator
Xu, Chris
Institute
Cornell University
Year Funded
2015
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
Summary
Multiphoton microscopy—first demonstrated more than two decades ago—has dramatically extended the depth penetration of high-resolution optical imaging. Yet, imaging depth remains a primary challenge. Xu proposes a method for increasing depth penetration that will incorporate adaptive optics—a technology first developed for ground-based telescopes to counteract the effect of light scattered by the atmosphere—to correct for aberrations caused by the effect of light scattering as it passes through brain tissue. Xu and his team will design and build a novel sensor for measuring these aberrations, allowing their distortions to be corrected. This advance will double the depth at which high-resolution brain imaging is possible, thereby increasing the number and types of circuits that can be analyzed using optical techniques.
Investigator
Yoo, Seung-schik
Institute
Brigham And Women's Hospital
Year Funded
2016
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Interventional Tools
  • Human Neuroscience
Summary
Focused ultrasound (FUS) with image-guidance techniques allow for non-invasive, transcranial delivery of acoustic energy to superficial and deep brain regions with excellent spatial selectively. Dr. Yoo and colleagues will develop and implement a wearable, image-guided transcranial FUS (tFUS) technique to temporarily elicit or suppress region-specific cortical and thalamic brain functions of the sensorimotor pathways in sheep. This new tFUS technique will non-invasively modulate specific brain areas with enhanced depth penetration and spatial resolution, providing a unique method to study the connection between brain activity and behavior, and potentially presenting novel therapeutic opportunities for neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Investigator
Butts-pauly, Kim Butts
Institute
Stanford University
Year Funded
2018
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
Summary

Direct brain stimulation has been used to treat neurological disorders, but the most commonly used techniques involve implanting electrodes into the brain tissue. Focused ultrasound (FUS) has emerged as a potential alternative that can noninvasively stimulate targets deep within the brain, the mechanism of action is poorly understood. Using a mouse model, Dr. Butts-Pauly and colleagues will specifically look at the peripheral hearing system and the effects of FUS on that brain region. By combining behavioral changes and analyses of neuronal activity, they will determine which neurons are stimulated by FUS and the strength of FUS signal needed to cause behavioral changes. These findings could help to advance FUS as a potential treatment for patients.

Investigator
Tyo, Keith
Institute
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
Year Funded
2018
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Interventional Tools
Summary

Recording neural activity densely within local circuits, yet with the flexibility to expand across large scale neural circuits, requires distributed, high bandwidth capabilities that cannot be met with current optical or electrical measurements. To address this limitation, Tyo’s team will develop DNA/RNA-based techniques that track calcium concentration fluctuations associated with neuron firing. They will then use calcium-sensitive polymerases to store that information in DNA/RNA strands to be sequenced later. Recording and storing markers of neural activity into the DNA/RNA strands of those neurons and circuits affords high spatio-temporal resolution that could provide future researchers with more complete neural activity maps than previously possible, revealing mechanisms underlying brain diseases.

Investigator
Roukes, Michael L (contact) Shepard, Kenneth L
Institute
California Institute Of Technology
Year Funded
2016
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
Summary
Roukes and Shepard propose next-generation, nanofabricated multielectrode arrays for recording and stimulating neural activity on a massive scale. The team will develop ultra-thin silicon probes, which will be mass-produced via partnerships with commercial grade semiconductor foundries, and will be widely disseminated to the neuroscience community. In addition to electrical recording and stimulating electrodes, arrays will be fabricated for multimodal experimental capabilities, including electrochemical sensing for neurotransmitters such as glutamate and dopamine, and nanoscale optical waveguides for optogenetic stimulation. Planar arrays of implantable shanks will be scaled to over 8,000 contact sites, establishing 3D systems with high bandwidth. The new multifunctional arrays will be tested in neuroscience research labs working on such wide-ranging topics as Parkinson's disease, the role of sleep in memory consolidation, and the function of neural circuits in different sensory systems.
Investigator
Foster, Mark A
Institute
Johns Hopkins University
Year Funded
2017
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
Summary
The use of endoscopy to image neural activity deep within the brain promises to transform our understanding of circuit function. Mark Foster and his team aim to develop a high-speed, multi-photon endoscope that combines temporal focusing optics and compressive sensing, together with a novel high-energy pulse delivery scheme, potentially reaching a nearly tenfold increase in frame rate over current endoscopy methods. Successful development of this technology will provide an important tool towards understanding neural circuit function at the individual neuron level.
Investigator
Culver, Joseph P
Institute
Washington University
Year Funded
2018
FOA Number
Status
Active
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
Summary
Functional neuroimaging is increasingly used as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in clinical populations, but traditional brain scanners (e.g., fMRI) require patients to remain motionless as images are acquired. Dr. Joseph Culver and colleagues propose the development of a wireless and wearable high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT) system for mapping brain functions in naturalistic settings. The group will address the technical challenges of developing a lightweight, wireless system, as well as validate paradigms needed to map and decode brain function within the system, before piloting the system in patients with cerebral palsy. By creating a portable system, this work has the potential to dramatically advance optical imaging and its role in understanding brain function – particularly in situations where it is difficult for patients to remain motionless.
Investigator
Braun, Paul (contact) Bruchas, Michael R
Institute
University Of Illinois At Urbana-champaign
Year Funded
2016
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
Summary
Calcium imaging is a powerful technique for assessing the activity of large populations of neurons in the brain. Rogers and his colleagues propose a wireless, injectable system that will image calcium signals in freely moving animals in any region of the brain. The miniaturized device consists of microscale light emitting diodes and inorganic photodetectors mounted on a thin flexible filament. The size reductions and purely wireless modes of operation of the new device will greatly enhance opportunities to study neural activity related to natural behaviors throughout the brain.
Investigator
Carmena, Jose Miguel
Institute
University Of California Berkeley
Year Funded
2016
FOA Number
Status
Complete
Project Number
Priority Area
  • Monitor Neural Activity
  • Interventional Tools
Summary
Carmena and his colleagues plan to develop implantable sensors for neural recording, called neural dust, that are based on miniature, wireless ultrasound technology. The technology will have three components: implanted neural dust particles for detecting and reporting extracellular electrical signals from neurons, an ultrasound power source placed under the skull and an external wireless receiver. Compared to standard microelectrode arrays, this technology promises to be less damaging to tissue, and has the potential for broader coverage of brain areas.