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Building Brains: Neuronal Circuits
on a Microscope Slide

Clemson University

The human brain is, perhaps, the most complex system in the known universe. Brain functions, including cognitive thought, memory, and consciousness, are emergent phenomena arising from the coordinated action of a hundred billion neurons and even more auxiliary cell types.

Historically, brain research has focused on either molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurons or whole-brain signaling dynamics. However, recent discoveries suggest that the fundamental units of brain functionality are not single neurons but simple circuits composed of a few neurons. Therefore, we approach brain research by building and testing simple, rationally designed neuronal circuits to reveal how brain functions arise from cells working together in small teams.

In the Building Brains exhibit, visitors will explore the concepts of how repetition might lead to learning through a Neuronal Circuit Memory Arcade Game. They will learn how we perform this research through a Neuronal Trap and Circuit Building Game. And they will even get to remotely operate the optical tweezer microelectrode array instrument we use to build brains back in the lab at Clemson! Visitors of all ages will broaden their awareness of how diverse brain research approaches contribute to understanding how the human mind works.


  • Joshua Alper
  • John Griffin
  • Joshua Alper
  • Megan Keech,Lucy Fischer
  • Madison Peck
  • Yugantar Gera
  • Daniel Thompson
  • Nathan Edwards
  • Katherine Wentworth
  • Aman Garlapati
  • George Grow
  • Krushi Patel
  • Subash Godar
  • Jerry Enverso
  • Abigail Poropatich
  • Hannah Levin