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About Us

SNI Word Cloud

View our 2015 Annual Report

Our Mission

The goal of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute is to understand how the brain gives rise to mental life and behavior, both in health and in disease. Our research community draws from and informs multiple disciplines, including neuroscience, medicine, engineering, psychology, education and law. New discoveries will transform our understanding of the human brain, provide novel treatments for brain disorders, and promote brain health throughout the lifespan. We aim to create positive benefits for individual people, families and society.


Neuroscience will transform the 21st century the way that quantum physics and breaking the genetic code did for the 20th century. Better knowledge about brain function is needed to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, lessening their impact on individuals, families, and society. We will better understand who we are: our thoughts, emotion, creativity and morality. With better neuroscience knowledge, we will design who we will be, modifying our abilities, knowledge and ways of being.

“As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away and we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”

— President Obama, April 2, 2013



Stanford is in a position of strength worldwide, and has been ahead of the curve – uniting scientists across disciplines around challenging questions in neurosciences.

Critically, we have new tools to observe and tune brain circuitry. These tools are to neuroscience what the telescope is to astronomy and the microscope is biology.


Current research themes:

  • The Changing Brain: understanding how brain networks evolve through growth, learning, and memory, and are undone by disease.
  • Cracking the Neural Code: how do brain circuits compute?
  • Enhancing the Brain: through brain-machine interfaces and neuromodulation.
  • Understanding Thought: what are the origins of decisions, memory and emotion?
  • How We Learn: discovering more about how we learn in order to improve our ability to teach and educate our children and ourselves.


SNI will enhance our understanding of the brain through

  • Engaging Extraordinary People
    • Making strategic faculty hires who are interdisciplinary “glue people”
    • Developing new training programs and expanded support for grad students and postdocs
  • Driving Interdisciplinary Research
    • Awarding seed grants to jump-start highly novel research
    • “Big ideas in neuroscience” – developing major research initiatives
  • Providing Vital Infrastructure
    • Building state-of-the-art research center for neuroscience
    • Expanding current core facilities and establishing new ones, providing operations to deliver programs

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—

— Emily Dickinson