Top brain scientist is ‘philosopher at heart’

Elizabeth Landau at CNN:

ScreenHunter_165 Apr. 02 14.26Ed Boyden tilts his head downward, remaining still except for his eyes, which dart back and forth between blinks for a full 10 seconds. Then, as if coming up for air from the sea of knowledge, he takes a breath, lifts his head back up and begins to speak again.

During these contemplative moments, you have to wonder what's going on inside the head of this young scientist who, at age 33, has already helped invent influential technologies in the study of the human brain.

It made sense when he told me, on a cold February day in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “I guess I was always a philosopher at heart as a kid.”

The morning of our meeting, The New York Times had just reportedthe Obama administration is considering funding an initiative called the Brain Activity Map project.

This is a collaboration of researchers who are seeking tools to map the human brain in unprecedented detail. A better understanding of how thoughts lead to actions, and how neural circuits lead to disease, could influence treatments for such conditions as epilepsy, autism, dementia, schizophrenia and even paralysis. Boyden is already working on such tools.

More here.