Ed Boyden: A new way to study the brain's invisible secrets
Ed Boyden - Neuroengineer
Ed Boyden is a professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. Full bio
when you add water to them,
by millions of kids every day.
in a very clever way.
called a swellable material.
when you add water,
industrial kind of polymer.
in my group at MIT
something similar to the brain.
can peer inside
structure of the brain, if you will?
of how the brain is organized
the exact changes in the brain
and epilepsy and Parkinson's,
treatments, much less cures,
we don't know the cause or the origins
a different point of view
been done over the last hundred years.
how to build technologies
over the first century of neuroscience
cells called neurons
through these complexly shaped neurons.
are connected in networks.
called synapses that exchange chemicals
to talk to each other.
our artist's rendition of it.
and thousands of kinds of biomolecules,
organized in complex, 3D patterns,
those electrical pulses,
that allow neurons to work together
and feelings and so forth.
the neurons in the brain are organized
the biomolecules are organized
of molecules and neurons
how the brain conducts information
of molecular changes that occur
those molecules have changed,
or changed in pattern,
as targets for new drugs,
energy into the brain
computations that are afflicted
from brain disorders.
technologies over the last century
that they are noninvasive,
or voxels, as they're called,
and millions of neurons.
the molecular changes that occur
of these networks
to be conscious and powerful beings.
you have microscopes.
to look at little tiny things.
to look at things like bacteria.
were discovered in the first place,
with a regular old microscope.
to see the brain more powerful,
even better technologies.
to zoom in to the brain,
Fei Chen and Paul Tillberg.
are helping with this process.
if we could take polymers,
within the brain.
and you add water,
those tiny biomolecules from each other.
and get maps of the brain.
just to buy it off the Internet
that actually occur in these diapers.
of the baby diaper material
by about a thousandfold
very interesting molecule,
to really zoom in on the brain
with past technologies.
in the baby diaper polymer?
what you see on the screen.
arranged in long, thin lines.
move everything apart in the brain.
is going to absorb the water,
apart from each other,
is going to become bigger.
these polymer chains inside the brain
ground truth maps of the brain.
and see the molecules within.
at, in these artist renderings,
like and how we might separate them.
to do, first of all,
shown in brown here,
of the brain apart from each other,
to have a little handle
polymer and dump it on the brain,
to make the polymers inside.
get the building blocks,
those long chains,
to pull apart the molecules
of those little handles is around,
and that's exactly what we need
apart from each other.
all the molecules from each other,
to start absorbing the water,
will come along for the ride.
a picture on a balloon,
away from each other.
to do now, but in three dimensions.
all the biomolecules brown.
kind of look the same.
out of the same atoms,
that will distinguish them.
might get a blue color.
might get a red color.
far apart enough from each other
we can make the invisible visible.
small and obscure
of information about life.
of what it might look like.
right before your eyes --
is going to grow.
or even more in volume.
those polymers are so tiny,
evenly from each other.
of the information.
actual brain circuitry --
involved with, for example, memory --
how circuits are configured.
at how circuits are configured
of our brain is organized
at a molecular level.
look into cells in the brain
molecules that have altered
of things that are going wrong,
at different parts of the brain
with Parkinson's or epilepsy
over a billion people
has been happening.
that expansion might help with.
from a human breast cancer patient.
if you look at development --
large-scale biological systems.
with those little nanoscale molecules,
and the organs in our body tick.
to do now is to figure out
to map the building blocks of life
the molecular changes in a tumor
go after it in a smart way
exactly the cells that we want to?
is very high risk.
what might be a high-risk moon shot
feat of engineering.
necessarily have all the laws.
that are analogous to gravity,
that occur in living systems,
the diseases that plague us.
have two young kids,
is to make life better for them
turn biology and medicine
that are governed by chance and luck,
that we win by skill and hard work,
About the speaker:Ed Boyden - Neuroengineer
Ed Boyden is a professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute.
Why you should listen
Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain. His group applies these tools in a systematic way in order to reveal ground truth scientific understandings of biological systems, which in turn reveal radical new approaches for curing diseases and repairing disabilities. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, and optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light (TED Talk: A light switch for neurons). Boyden also co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.
Amongst other recognitions, Boyden has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013) and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013) and the Technology Review World's "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006). His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use new biotechnologies and spun out several companies to bring inventions out of his lab and into the world. Boyden received his Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. Before that, he received three degrees in electrical engineering, computer science and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 300 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents and articles, and he has given over 300 invited talks on his group's work.
Ed Boyden | Speaker | TED.com