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Brain Scan

In Focus

Since founding the world’s first Neurobiology Department in 1966, Harvard has been a hub for researchers who aspire to understand how the brain works, and clinician-scientists who are driven to fix it when it doesn’t.

The brains of the operation

Meet people from across Harvard who are working to understand everything about the brain, from Zellweger syndrome to Alzheimer’s disease.

… an exciting first step to understanding the mechanisms that lead to autism spectrum disorder and other complex psychiatric conditions …"

Paola Arlotta, the Golub Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

Paola Arlotta in her office
… no one person, even a world's expert on delirium, can prevent delirium by themselves.”

Sharon Inouye, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

geriatrician Sharon Inouye smiling
… we have this library of concepts that we can use to formulate an effectively infinite number of thoughts."

Joshua Greene, professor of psychology

Joshua Greene smiling near trees
I am interested in how sensory neurons acquire and maintain specialized properties to accurately send information about the world to the brain."

Isle Bastille, graduate student in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School

Isle smiling in a blue blazer

Long-term memory

Look back at some of the research and discoveries that led to our current understanding of the brain.

The brain and personality

Phineas Gage

The story of Phineas Gage illustrates some of the first medical knowledge gained on the relationship between personality and the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobe.

Read more on the Harvard Gazette

S.S. Stevens sitting in a room with soundproofing

The ear-brain connection

S.S. Stevens and Psychoacoustics

One of many Harvard scientists studying how the senses connect to the brain, Stanley Smith “SS” Stevens was a pioneer in studying the psychological responses associated with sound. He served as professor of psychophysics and the founder and director of the Harvard Psychoacoustics Laboratory.

Explore more on the Harvard Brain Tour

A sepia photo of Freud

Origins of psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud

This new online exhibition opens a unique window into Freud’s thought processes using his rarely seen drawings and collected artwork.


Explore the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments exhibition

Trick your brain

With these optical illusions the Harvard Vision Sciences Laboratory demonstrates the limits of visual processing in the brain.

Learn more about the Vision Sciences Laboratory

Instructions: Play the movie while looking at the small white speck in the center of the ring. At first, the ring is motionless and it’s easy to tell that the dots are changing color. When the ring begins to rotate, the dots suddenly appear to stop changing. But in reality they are changing the entire time. Take a look.

Changing color

Changing size

Changing shape