How Genes Shape Behavior

From the lab of Andrés Bendesky, MD, PhD, Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Dual betta fish circling to make an attack. These fish have been bred to be aggressive. In his lab, Dr. Bendesky is studying these fish to see whether their aggression can be traced back to any genetic markers, and whether equivalents of those markers could exist in people (Credit: iStockPhoto/Getty Images).

A Mind to Discover

At Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, we believe that understanding how the brain works — and gives rise to mind and behavior — is the most urgent and exciting challenge of our time. Led by Nobel laureates Eric Kandel, MD, and Richard Axel, MD, we study critical aspects of the mind and brain, gaining insights that promise to benefit people and societies everywhere.

Our Science: We explore how the brain develops, performs, endures and recovers.


Learning from Experience

Associate professor Daphna Shohamy, PhD, studies learning and memory — both how we memorize facts and how we slowly learn habits. She has discovered that there’s a lot more “cross-talk” between these two forms of learning than previously thought, raising questions about what different parts of the brain are doing as we learn, and how what we learn affects the decisions we make.

Scientific Resources: The tools, facilities and people that make our research possible.

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Saturday Science

Nurturing a love of science at a monthly event for families and community groups

A young visitor learns about the brains of humans and other animals at a Saturday Science in February 2017 (Credit: Michael DiVito/Columbia University).


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Our Mission

At Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, our mission is to decipher the brain. From effective treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s and autism to advances in fields as fundamental as economics, the arts, and law, the potential for humanity is staggering.

Jerome L. Greene Science Center (Credit: Frank Oudeman/Columbia University).


Peeling Back the Brain's Layers

Associate Professor Randy Bruno recently discovered that the upper and lower regions of the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that controls higher brain functions) work independently — despite the fact that they are tightly interconnected. He is now leading efforts to identify the behavioral roles each distinct region plays both in health and in disease.