Decades of brain imaging research have generated pictures of the brain in action – both in healthy individuals engaged in acts of thinking and feeling and in patients with brain diseases who are impaired in those capacities. Despite this knowledge, we still don’t understand how brain circuits work together to produce these abilities, or how to use this information to develop new therapies for brain disease. In fact, treatments for psychiatric disorders have not meaningfully progressed in decades; effective treatments have been discovered only by chance, and we have little understanding as to how these interventions work. A major hurdle that has prevented our understanding of cause and effect in the brain is the inability to directly manipulate brain activity and connections in a precise and flexible manner throughout the brain. We thus propose a series of radical innovations in the theoretical and practical basis for non- invasive neurostimulation. Using brain stimulation tools with unprecedented power and precision, we will achieve a mechanistic understanding of how human brain circuits generate behavior. This will enable us to design and test a broad range of new treatments for psychiatric disorders, matching our ability to observe circuitry with brain imaging. Furthermore, novel laboratory and clinical studies will be coupled with innovative educational initiatives and social science investigations, thus facilitating these long hoped-for advances in the understanding and treatment of brain diseases. Through our efforts, we will establish a new and robust intellectual, scientific, and clinical paradigm for understanding and manipulating human brain circuits.
Big Ideas in Neuroscience Award