CNS 30 year celebration, from the left: Pietro Perona, Christof Koch and Carver Mead
Credit: W. W. Girdner
Drawing by Edith M. Wallace, September 1934
Credit: Caltech Archives
Caltech has a long history of discoveries in basic science that have fundamentally transformed the landscape in neuroscience. This work includes Seymour Benzer's discovery that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster could be used as a simple organism to study how genes influence behavior. It is also illustrated by Roger Sperry's Nobel Prize–winning discovery that the right and left sides of the human brain must communicate with each other for proper cognitive function.
Research by Mark Konishi includes pioneering work on the brain mechanisms of sound localization in barn owls. The barn owl provides one of the best examples in which sensory perception is understood at the level of neural pathways and circuits.
Caltech also has been home to groundbreaking achievements in computational neuroscience, such as Carver Mead's development of very-large-scale integrated circuits, which have been applied at Caltech and elsewhere to machine learning and machine vision. Indeed, it was at Caltech that the world's first graduate program in Computation and Neural Systems (CNS) was established in 1986, this program continues to flourish to this day.