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Neuron. 2013 Oct 30;80(3):568-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.10.032.

Engineering approaches to illuminating brain structure and dynamics.

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Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; CNC Program, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Electronic address:


Historical milestones in neuroscience have come in diverse forms, ranging from the resolution of specific biological mysteries via creative experimentation to broad technological advances allowing neuroscientists to ask new kinds of questions. The continuous development of tools is driven with a special necessity by the complexity, fragility, and inaccessibility of intact nervous systems, such that inventive technique development and application drawing upon engineering and the applied sciences has long been essential to neuroscience. Here we highlight recent technological directions in neuroscience spurred by progress in optical, electrical, mechanical, chemical, and biological engineering. These research areas are poised for rapid growth and will likely be central to the practice of neuroscience well into the future.

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