Department of Biomedical Optics
There are two main lines of attack: measuring activity and reconstructing circuits. Fast information transmission in the brain is mediated mainly by neuronal processes, called axons, along which electrochemical excitation actively propagates.
Along those axons we find in a more or less regular pattern special cellular organelles, which are able to connect, by chemical or electrical means, to neighboring neuronal processes (dendrites) and thus allow the transmission of information to those cells. Those connections, called synapses, are most likely where information is permanently stored (long-term memory).
To understand, however, what actually happens when a face or a smell is recognized, it is necessary to know, on one hand, what is the spatial distribution of chemical and electrical activity down to the finest branches. On the other hand, we need to know how the network of connections, which makes activities in different areas dependent on each other, is arranged.