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Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative: Brain-Behavior Quantification and Synchronization


Sarah H. Lisanby, M.D.
Division of Translational Research


This concept aims to:

  • develop high resolution tools and analytic approaches that can precisely quantify species-appropriate behaviors as a multi-dimensional response and synchronize these with simultaneously recorded brain activity;
  • build new conceptual and computational models of behavioral systems, with which to establish causal brain/behavior relationships and enable closed loop intervention development; and,
  • establish a cross-disciplinary consortium of researchers to develop and disseminate new tools, ontologies, research designs, and ethical frameworks that will transform how mechanistic brain-behavioral research is conducted.


Matching the rigor and precision of brain activity measurements with measurements of the functional output of that brain activity, as expressed in a broad range of behaviors, may enable discovery of brain-behavior relationships. This linkage between brain activity and behavior is especially crucial for higher order cognitive functions. For such functions measuring brain output may be the more valid and readily available read-out with which to train and control closed-loop neuromodulatory devices designed to treat complex behavioral disorders and interrupt maladaptive behaviors before they occur. Achieving a comprehensive understanding of brain-behavior relationships demands the same degree of rigor, precision of measurement, and temporal resolution across all levels. Current tools for measuring behavior, especially in humans, can be substantially improved. Developing brain-behavior quantification systems to bridge this gap is expected to accelerate discovery of basic brain science underlying complex behaviors and enable intervention development.

Research activities may include:

  • novel technology platforms to capture multi-modal behavioral data that have the accuracy, specificity, temporal resolution, and flexibility commensurate with tools used to measure and modulate neural activity within circuits that give rise to those behaviors; 
  • innovative devices and computational approaches to link high-dimensionality data with simultaneously recorded neural activity;
  • novel sensing technologies integrated with advanced computing tools and computational modeling to collect continuous synchronized recordings of multiple dimensions of behavior;
  • ambulatory tools that transition from lab-based setting to a home-based environment for measuring naturalistic behaviors; and, 
  • algorithms to decode mental state using observed behaviors, or indicate subjective experiences elicited by specific environmental cues.