The Big Question.
How Do Brains Make Minds?
Over 80 billion neurons and a quadrillion of possible connections
between these cells support our conscious mental life.
Explaining the link between mind and brain is science’s hardest problem.
The Cost of Not Knowing
We have little control over our behavior as individuals and as societies.
We are helpless in the face of brain
We perpetuate the mystification and stigma towards mental illness.
What's Holding Back Brain Research?
An estimated 1.7M brain scientist work incessantly in thousands of labs around the world, and yet brain disease still largely unchallenged and we are not much closer to truly understanding the workings of the human brain. Why is that?
Constraints on Discovery – The Problem as We See It.
Smaller is easier
Industry and government funding agencies favor predictable studies with a bias on animal research, even though the usefulness of animal models of neurological disease is subject of debate. Paradoxically, we know more about the brains of mice and fruit flies than we know our own.
Heavy averaging is used to produce statistically significant results from low-resolution, non-invasive neuroimaging data like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). While these studies reveal patterns that are significant clinically, they also obscure individual features and subjective information - crucial to understand the link between brain and consciousness.
The majority of data produced by individual labs are not shared, nor reproducible. Moreover, intellectual property and financial prerogatives are embedded in academic and medical centers, further hindering data sharing and collaboration.
Researchers work behind closed doors, so the public is detached from the process of scientific discovery. The separation of science from the rest of society creates public distrust and weakens public engagement in research.
We Like Difficult
Invention and innovation are fueled by hard problems. We believe that it is time to face up to the large, inscrutable, and variable human brain as it's the only way to understand what makes us who we are.
It is time to share all data produced by sponsored research, not just the polished results. Scientific data and knowledge should be shared among scientists and with the public - the tax payers who funded the research in the first place.
At The Brain Observatory, we don't avoid difficult challenges and we strive towards full transparency and accountability in the way we do research.
The Brain Observatory Way
We only develop technologies that can be shared and that are designed to visualize and measure the human brain.
We design protocols and experiments that clarify the link between each brain and the human being it belongs to.
We inspire citizens of all ages to believe and participate in neuroscience research.
Telescope & Microscope
Neuroscientists have a lot to learn from astronomy. The Brain Observatory was conceived as a public observatory for the human brain. We make neuroimaging technology that can be utilized by researchers on site and remotely, just like the astronomical telescopes that empower collaborative discovery worldwide.
Purely Human Research
From the start, The Brain Observatory took on the challenge of working exclusively with human brains and in 2009 we demonstrated to the neuroscientific community that it is possible to solve difficult problems and achieve what was unthinkable.
We humanized the brain, making it relevant to millions of individuals who never trained as scientists. We also showed that when a laboratory opens its doors to the outside world, many respond with enthusiastic participation. Learn More
Research on the human brain will not advance without the participation of human research subjects. The potential of the public as a partner in research is yet to be fully realized. We want to provide value to our research subjects by making them stakeholders in our venture, not just passive providers of data.
Come and See for Yourself
The Brain Observatory pairs cutting-edge neuroimaging technology with concepts that have inspired creativity and invention for centuries, like Aristotle’s belief that learning comes from direct engagement with tangible objects and the Buddhist tenet of “Ehipassiko” – an invitation for everyone to "Come and see for yourself."
Inspiring New Generations of Brain Scientists
The Brain Observatory is a place to widen the perspective on neuroscience research--a place where direct, first-hand experience stimulates curiosity and learning about the human brain. Broadening the study of the brain to how it relates to fundamental behavior people can relate to. Moving research activities outside of the boundaries of academic and medical institutions into public, "open science" settings.