Carnegie Mellon University

What is BrainHub?

Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub research initiative builds on the university’s strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering to study on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors, and develops new technologies that stand to transform neuroscience.

BrainHub Panel Discussion: Downloading Consciousness: Connectomics and Computer Science

How are circuits constructed to give rise to cognition? Have we nearly passed the Turing test? Neuroscientists are making great strides in investigating motifs for cellular and synaptic connectivity in the brain, with the hope that they might be able to reconstruct "thought" by understanding the component parts. Conversely, computer scientists are using different strategies to create better and better interfaces for devices to interact with us in a way that is indistinguishable from another human. An interdisciplinary panel of researchers from Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub, including the Human-Computer Interaction Institute’s Anind Dey, computer scientist David Touretzky, philosopher Wayne Wu, and neurobiologists Sandra Kuhlman and Alison Barth, discuss these approaches to replicate cognition.

BrainHub Launch: Panel Video

Carnegie Mellon university faculty and global research partners took part in a panel discussion at the launch of CMU BrainHub, a new initiative that focuses on understanding the human brain — one of the grand challenges of the 21st century.


Alison Barth, professor of biological sciences, studies the organization and plasticity of neocortical circuits in rodents. Her work, which centers on how synapses are altered by behavioral experience, involves the use of neurophysiological recordings, transgenic mice, and electron microscopy to understand brain function.

Byron Yu, associate professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, talks about how he uses brain-computer interface tools and other technologies to study how the brain learns. Yu is working to develop systems to help people learn more effectively.

How does the brain rapidly reconstruct the world as it’s laid out in front of us? This is one of the questions Psychology Professor Marlene Behrmann is working to answer. In this video, she talks about how she uses the latest analytical methods such as machine learning and statistical analysis to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms behind the visual perception system.

Michael J. Tarr is a world-renowned cognitive scientist who studies the human visual system. In this video, he talks about Carnegie Mellon University’s long history in brain research, his own work and what the future holds for CMU’s BrainHub initiative.

Timothy Verstynen, assistant professor of psychology, studies how the specific organization of connections in the brain, particularly anatomical connections between the neocortex and subcortical areas, constrains how humans plan, learn and execute actions. He is also involved with launching health neuroscience – a new field of study that explores how environmental, social and physical factors impact the brain and behavior.

Rob Kass, professor of statistics and machine learning, applies statistical methods to all aspects of neuroscience, including neural spike train data, MEG, fMRI and diffusion imaging techniques, to better understand how neural signals change under varying circumstances. A thorough understanding of neural network dynamics will be essential in developing targeted therapies for brain-related illnesses.

Steven Chase, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, uses brain-computer interfaces to study motor learning and skill acquisition. His work stands to provide a better understanding of how movement information is represented in networks of neurons in the brain and will inform the development of neural prosthetics.