Newton Professor of Neuroscience, Brain & Cognitive Sciences
Director, Simons Center for the Social Brain
Investigator, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
- Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
Dr. Mriganka Sur is the Newton Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Simons Center for the Social Brain at MIT, which he founded after 15 years as head of the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Dr. Sur studies the organization, plasticity and dynamics of the cerebral cortex of the brain using experimental and theoretical approaches. He has discovered fundamental principles by which networks of the cerebral cortex are wired during development and change dynamically during learning. His laboratory has identified gene networks underlying cortical plasticity, and pioneered high resolution imaging methods to study cells, synapses and circuits of the intact brain. His group has demonstrated novel mechanisms underlying disorders of brain development, and proposed innovative strategies for treating such disorders. Recently, his laboratory has discovered core functional rules of inhibitory-excitatory neuronal circuits in the cerebral cortex, and revealed dynamics of information flow and transformation across widespread cortical areas during goal-directed behavior.
Dr. Sur received the B. Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, Nashville. He has received numerous awards and honors, most recently the Cortical Discoverer Prize of the Cajal Club, and delivered distinguished lectures world-wide. He has trained over 75 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, and received awards for outstanding teaching and mentoring. At MIT, he has been recognized with the Sherman Fairchild and Newton Chairs. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of the UK, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Academy of Sciences, and the Indian National Science Academy.
The Sur laboratory studies the development, plasticity and dynamics of circuits in the cerebral cortex of the brain. The developing brain requires a genetic blueprint but is also acutely sensitive to experience and the environment. The adult brain responds to external stimuli, and modulates these responses by internal states such as attention, through dynamic changes in information transmission and processing.
Brain processing is enabled by local and long-range cortical circuits, which are wired during development by mechanisms of plasticity and change during adulthood by mechanisms of learning and memory. Abnormal wiring of synapses and circuits lies at the core of many brain disorders. The goal of our laboratory is to understand long-term plasticity and short-term dynamics in circuits of the developing and adult cortex, and utilize this understanding to discover mechanisms underlying disorders of brain development.
Our laboratory studies these topics using state-of-the-art techniques. These include novel approaches for recording the activity and analyzing the structure of neurons, synapses and circuits of the cerebral cortex in vivo and in vitro, combined with molecular approaches to study cortical development and computational approaches to study information processing and dynamics.
Our research is funded by grants from the BRAIN Initiative/NINDS, NEI, NIMH, NSF and the Simons Foundation.