Image of RLE Brainwave Correlator Computer RLE Brainwave Correlator Computer
Research Laboratory of Electronics, 1946–Present; Brainwave Correlator Computer, Norbert Wiener, John Barlow, and Walter Rosenblith, 1955

Interdisciplinary collaboration is hardly a new phenomenon at MIT. Researchers frequently make connections across departmental or disciplinary boundaries. The first significant interdepartmental laboratory at MIT was the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), established in 1946 with the goal of preserving the facilities and research community that had been created by the MIT Radiation Laboratory. It has been a remarkable incubator for new research and organizations at MIT.

Walter Rosenblith started the Communications Biophysics Laboratory at RLE to apply modern electronics and Norbert Weiner’s mathematical work to the poorly understood phenomenon of electromagnetic waves in the brain. This unit is one piece of a large computer built in collaboration with groups at MIT and at Massachusetts General Hospital, including Doctor John Barlow. Wiener volunteered for one of the first tests of the machine’s function—but when asked to generate alpha waves by lying down and relaxing, he promptly fell asleep!

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