Principles of Neuroengineering

[Class Content]   [Fall 2015]  [Fall 2014]  [Fall 2013]  [Fall 2012]  [Fall 2011]  [Fall 2010]  [Fall 2009]  [Fall 2008]  [Fall 2007]  

MIT Course Numbers: 9.422 ~ 20.352/20.452 ~ MAS.881
Instructor: E.S. Boyden
Units: 3-0-9 Units
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30AM-12PM
Place: E14-493


Covers how to innovate technologies for brain analysis and engineering, for accelerating the basic understanding of the brain, and leading to new therapeutic insight and inventions. Focuses on using physical, chemical and biological principles to understand technology design criteria governing ability to observe and alter brain structure and function. Topics include optogenetics, noninvasive brain imaging and stimulation, nanotechnologies, stem cells and tissue engineering, and advanced molecular and structural imaging technologies. Includes design projects. Designed for students with engineering maturity who are ready for design. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.


Part I. Towards ground-truth understanding of the brain. Knowns (principles, building blocks, functions) and unknowns.

9/7, Overview of the class. The nature of principles of neuroengineering. Examples. Introductions.
9/12, Circuit elements of the nervous system. Neurons, glia, blood vessels. Channels, receptors, transmitters. Genes, cell types. Modalities of signaling (ionic, gap junctional, ephaptic, synaptic/chemical, second messenger, diffusible, etc.). Analog vs. digital signaling. New mechanisms.
9/19, Principles of designing tools. Top-down vs. bottom-up design approaches, architecting, tools for science vs. for the clinic, ease of use, democratization vs. observatories, assumption-proofing.
9/21, Macroscopic circuit principles. Brain regions and connectivity, large-scale dynamics. How these past conclusions were influenced by past technologies, and what is unknown or uncertain. Tiling trees and other strategies for thinking.
9/28, Microscopic circuit principles. Cell type-specific connectivity, connectomics, gliocircuits. How these past conclusions were influenced by past technologies, and what is unknown or uncertain.
10/3, Paper discussions.

Part II. Technologies for mapping and measurement: molecular, anatomical, and dynamical observation and readout.

10/5, Large-scale mapping and measurement. PET, photoacoustic imaging, MEG, EEG, fMRI, infrared imaging, and more. Physical principles of large-scale brain interfacing.
10/19, Fine-scale mapping and measurement. Electrodes, nanoprobes, nanoparticles, optical imaging and microscopy, endoscopy, multiphoton microscopy, electron microscopy, expansion microscopy.
10/31, Midterm presentations.

Part III. Technologies for controlling and constructing: molecular, anatomical, and dynamical control and building.

11/2, Large-scale control. Magnetic, electrical, ultrasonic, pharmacological/pharmacogenetic, thermal, interferometric, and more.
11/7, Fine-scale control. Infrared optical stimulation, optogenetics, nanoparticle-mediated control, uncaging, signaling control.
11/21, Circuit assembly. Development, 3-D brain building, tissue engineering, stem cells, gene therapy and viral/trangenic technologies, extracellular matrix.
11/28, MIT Neurotechnology Conference (all day)
11/30, Building blocks of future tools. Barcoding, quantum-measurement nanoparticles, DNA origami, exosomes, prions, post-transcriptional/translational modifications, and more.

Part IV. Conclusion.

12/5, Final project presentations, part I.
12/12, Final project presentations, part II.