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Student Project: Neurotransmitter Effectivity Part II

Continuing my Research

Hi Everyone!
My name is Pranav Senthilkumar and I’m a rising senior at Mission San Jose High School in California. I have previously shared my work devising a neuroprosthetic device with the help of Dr. Marzullo, and now with his excellent guidance, I am starting another major neuroscience project.

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Control Video Games with your Brain!

As educators, we are always trying to keep up with our students. We understand that technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and the way students entertain themselves in their free time is changing. Video games are an incredibly popular activity among students of all ages. To best engage with students, our aim is to blend their interests with science, to let them flex their gaming skills alongside their budding critical-engineering perspective, and best yet, to make STEM learning just a little bit competitive!

The Game Controller

The BYBGame Controller allows students to capture electrical signals from their muscles, hearts, and eyes, and use these spikes of activity to control video games!

Starting with simple games like Super Mario, Galaga, and Pong, students learn the basics of biofeedback. In medicine and physical therapy, similar systems are used to help people exercise, train motor control, and build strength!

This phenomenon is also an example of assistive technology! Not everyone is physically able to use the standard Mouse & Keyboard / video game controllers which many of us use to interface with our video games and computers. Systems like these allow for differently-abled peopled to plug in and play games using other parts of their body!

Upping the Complexity… What about 3D video games?

Students can continue to explore with the Game Controller and come up with ways to interface with all of their favorite games.

Check out this simple example above of how Will set up World of Warcraft to take input from his eyes and arms.

Program Your Own Game Controller with the Muscle SpikerShield Pro

“But 3 inputs isn’t enough to play my favorite game!”

I hear you. Me too.

Using the Muscle SpikerShield Pro and some simple code, you can take over total keyboard and mouse control.

In this example, I combined the Muscle SpikerShield Pro and Game Controller to have 9-inputs into World of Warcraft.

  1. Start Running
  2. Stop Running
  3. Turn Left
  4. Turn Right
  5. Target Enemy
  6. Change Target
  7. Small Attack
  8. Big Attack
  9. Heart-Beat Display

With just a bit of troubleshooting, I was able to actively play an online, multiplayer game, using only signals from my muscles and heart as inputs!

What about Multiplayer games?

Lastly, also using the Muscle SpikerShield Pro, students can control and compete in multiplayer games!

In real physical therapy, this is an effective way to motivate sedentary or injured people to exercise targetted parts of their bodies! It’s also a lot of fun… I asked Zach and Caitlin to help for just a few minutes, and then they played all the way up to over 100 points!

Get Started with the Game Controller – an Expansion kit for the Muscle SpikerBox Pro

The Game Controller is an expansion product which requires a Muscle SpikerBox Pro and a Desktop or Laptop computer running Windows or MacOS.

Check it out in our store, and put your students on a cutting edge track to come up with the biofeedback devices of the future!


Summer Research Fellow’s Mantis Shrimp Paper has been Published!

Hot off the presses! Read all about it! Mantis Shrimp Wrangler Extraordinaire Dan has been published!

Dan presenting his research in Europe

Backyard Brains Senior Fellow Dan Pollack has had his research published in JUNE, the Journal for Undergraduate Neuroscience Education: “An Electrophysiological Investigation of Power-Amplification in the Ballistic Mantis Shrimp Punch.” The paper offers a rundown of Dan’s research, culminating in a template laboratory exercise for use in classrooms, studying the electrophysiology of power-amplified limb movement in arthropods, with a specific focus on mantis shrimp strikes. How do mantis shrimps punch so hard, and how can we study the phenomena in the classroom?

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