Neuroscientist, Dream Researcher
Matthew Wilson is Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience and Picower Scholar at MIT. His lab is interested in teasing apart the mechanisms of sleep and arousal, and applications of neuroscience in engineering and the study of intelligence. Wilson investigates brain systems that contribute to learning, memory, spatial navigation, and decision-making and their possible involvement in neurological diseases and disorders. By monitoring the coordinated activity of ensembles of large numbers of individual neurons during active behavior, sleep, and quiet wakefulness he identified a process of memory reactivation that reflected both the content and the temporal linkage of events that could constitute the basis of episodic memory. These events may reflect the animal equivalent of dreaming.
His research has focused on the manner in which memory representations in the brain are formed, maintained, and used during behavior. His approach employs several distinct strategies for examining the neural basis of memory including electrophysiological, molecular genetic, behavioral, and computational approaches. By examining subsequent changes in neural activity during sleep his lab has begun elucidating the nature of memory processing and consolidation during these periods. These approaches have been combined with pharmacological and genetic manipulations to identify the influence of specific cellular and molecular mechanisms on behavior and memory.
Professor Wilson received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his PhD in Computation and Neural Systems from the California Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1994 where he focused on the study of mechanisms of memory formation through the use of microelectrode arrays implanted in the brains of freely behaving rodents. In addition to his professorship at MIT, Wilson is also the Associate Department Head for Education.