The brain operates through complex interactions in the flow of information and signal processing within neural networks. The 'wiring' of such networks, being neuronal or glial, can physically and/or functionally go rogue in various pathological states. Neuromodulation, as a multidisciplinary venture, attempts to correct such faulty nets. In this review, selected approaches and challenges in neuromodulation are discussed. The use of water-dispersible carbon nanotubes has been proven effective in the modulation of neurite outgrowth in culture and in aiding regeneration after spinal cord injury in vivo. Studying neural circuits using computational biology and analytical engineering approaches brings to light geometrical mapping of dynamics within neural networks, much needed information for stimulation interventions in medical practice. Indeed, sophisticated desynchronization approaches used for brain stimulation have been successful in coaxing 'misfiring' neuronal circuits to resume productive firing patterns in various human disorders. Devices have been developed for the real-time measurement of various neurotransmitters as well as electrical activity in the human brain during electrical deep brain stimulation. Such devices can establish the dynamics of electrochemical changes in the brain during stimulation. With increasing application of nanomaterials in devices for electrical and chemical recording and stimulating in the brain, the era of cellular, and even intracellular, precision neuromodulation will soon be upon us. © 2012 International Society for Neurochemistry.