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The Allen Institute Mindscope Program

This program entered a transition phase in 2023. Before then, this program focused on investigating the mechanics of behavior and consciousness.

Our Approach

To understand how incoming light from the observable world hitting our retinas leads to visual perception, and in turn, produces thought and guides behavior, we observe, perturb, and model the flickering electrical signals that allow neurons in the brain to communicate with each other. To do this, we operate team-based Brain Observatories that measure the brain’s electrical output and make the rich data from these cellular surveys freely and publicly available.

We observe and model how the brain translates external information into electrical signals that illuminate how we respond to the external world.

neuropixels probes
Neuropixels probes

The Allen Brain Observatory

The Allen Brain Observatory is a standardized experimental platform that takes a large-scale approach to study neurons as they fire in a living animal. Viewing this complex cascade of electrical signals sheds light on how our brains make sense of and act on visual information. Observatory experiments rely on Neuropixels probes, thin silicon probes that were developed to record the electrical signals from hundreds or thousands of neurons at once.

Learn more and access data

OpenScope Art observatory of the mind
Image by Benedicte Rossi


An open call for scientific discovery – OpenScope is a platform for scientists outside the Allen Institute to submit experimental proposals on brain function to carry out through the Allen Brain Observatory. Once a year, Allen Institute scientists review and select proposals, lowering barriers to testing hypotheses and bringing new talents to the forefront of neuroscience.


Understanding how we see, think and make decisions, means understanding the machinery of the brain in action. Like a computer, understanding the flow of information tells us much more than just a static wiring diagram.

Headshot of Christof

Science Programs at Allen Institute