WORKSHOP: Physical, Engineering and Biological Limits to Brain Measurement

May (29) 30-31, 2014

Westin Arlington-Gateway in Arlington, VA

An important part of this discussion has been pushing the boundaries in terms of spatial and temporal resolution, miniaturization, numbers of probes or actuators, etc The question naturally arises as to what the fundamental limits are: some come from physics (eg electrical, optical and wireless methods cannot violate Maxwell’s equations), some come from engineering and material science, and some from biology (eg one cannot over-heat the brain by dissipating too much power). The goal is to bring together practicing experts to have a systematic discussion about these limits, resulting in a written document that can be broadly disseminated to help different parties in understanding the issues, to delineate possible/impossible boundaries and to point to areas requiring work.

This will be a small, focused meeting with up to 30 participants, with a single session attended by the whole group over the meeting period. A draft document discussing the limits will be outlined before the meeting, discussed during the meeting, and completed post-meeting with the goal of publishing the results as a widely disseminated manuscript. The meeting will constitute sequential discussions of the different frequency ranges of the Maxwell’s equation (EEG/MEG at low frequencies, MRI, wired/wireless, optical, and x-ray), with additional segments on electron microscopy, on a general framework spanning the frequency ranges, and statistics/inverse problems.


Jin Hyung Lee, Stanford University

Peter Littlewood, University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory

Ivar Martin, Argonne National Laboratory

Partha Mitra, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


National Science Foundation Contact:
Krastan B. Blagoev, Program Director, Physics of Living Systems (Physics Division)