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Update: Chilean Internship Plant Conduction Velocity Project Summary y Adiós (Por Ahora)

Global meeting. Me (upper left – Chile), Étienne (scientific advisor – upper right – Germany), Patricio (my undergraduate thesis advisor (lower left – Chile), and Tim (my supervisor at Backyard Brains – South Korea). These are our thinking faces, not our mad faces.

— Written by Carla Contreras Mena —

Hello! Carla Contreras Mena from Santiago, Chile, here again. Welcome to the conclusion of my work during my internship with Backyard Brains.

Experiment Update

In the last few months, I’ve had to study more about plants. Why? Because, In my daily life in the laboratory, I’m not very familiar with the chemistry of plants, how to take care of them, and other characteristics. But, it’s always very interesting to learn new things.

Maybe you remember this picture from the last blog (“Backyard Brains welcomes newest Chilean Intern: Conduction Velocity in Different Plants”):

Carla's plants

Why am I reminding you? My home garden currently looks a bit different: More plants, and they grew!

Carla's plants update: they grew!

In Chile during this time of the year it’s summer, although during January the temperatures went up a lot. This caused the plants to have a hard time, however, many of them survived and are still giving a lot of data (at least).

The current plants are Chilean Chile, Ornamental Chile, Basil, Creeping Inchplant, Argentian Dollar, Hierba Buena, Mint, Rosemary, Ruda, Tomato, and the Venus Flytrap. You can see my numbers breakdown below, lots of recordings: 192!

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New Edition of “How Your Brain Works” at Brain Awareness Week 2024

Backyard Brains in Serbia - Brain Awareness Week 2024

Schools, museums, libraries, community centers and other public venues in over 75 countries— last week, the entire planet was firing spikes in honor of the brain during Brain Awareness Week 2024! An annual event organized and partly funded by Dana Foundation and International Brain Research Organization (IBRO), it’s the biggest joint scientific outreach in the world whose goal is to get more people to think, talk, make, partake in experiments and get generally excited about the brain.

And just like every previous year, we were part of it too, personally or in spirit through our gear! This time around, our SpikerBoxes have conquered five countries (that we know of): from our own to Canada, the UK, Serbia and Austria.

But the Serbian high school teachers and students were in for a special treat.

“How Your Brain Works” Now Speaks Serbian Too

"How Your Brain Works" Serbian edition

After Spanish and Italian editions, our book “How Your Brain Works” (MIT Press, 2022) got its first expanded edition. The good news is, there are several more experiments that we worked on with our fellows since the 2023 Summer Research Fellowship. The bad news, the book is in Serbian, so the new experiments aren’t available to our US audience for the time being! We hereby extend our gratitude to Nordeus Foundation, Center for Promotion of Science and the US Embassy in Serbia, who have made it all possible.

But the book launch, several workshops and media appearances weren’t the only way we popularized neuroscience in Serbia. We also donated neuroscience combos (the book + Neuron SpikerBox Pro + Human SpikerBoxO) to 23 schools around the country. These schools are now joining the ranks with a couple Serbian universities, two primary schools and a grammar school that have already received our gear over the past years. It will translate to thousands of students getting a chance to do hands-on neuroscience in the classroom!

More BYB Neuroscience at Brain Awareness Week 2024

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Amateur Scientist Tries to Hack Human-Human Interface to Treat His Own Spinal Cord Injury

Amateur scientist Gianni Garulli in his lab, trying to hack Human-Human Interface to treat his spinal cord injury

We’ve been doing it for 10 years already: connecting two humans so that one uses their own brain signals to control the other one’s limb. But how about hooking up two limbs of a single human so that one limb can control the other?

This is exactly what Gianni Garulli, a hardware and firmware developer from Lonato del Garda, Italy, tried to do. Having suffered a spinal cord injury that affected his legs, one more heavily than the other, he was on the lookout for treatment, even if it required some serious tinkering.

So when his daughter Elisa came across our booth at the FENS 2022 in Paris, one thing caught her eye: the Human-Human Interface (HHI) and the idea of neuroplasticity. Christmas was nearing and with it, their old tradition of spending holiday time doing projects together. As it happened, the perfect Christmas gift was there for the taking.

Elisa’s own background helped too. As a PhD student at Charité University Hospital, Berlin, she studies neurotechnology and holds an MSc in biotech. Moreover, she used to be part of O.W.L. (Open Wet Lab), a biohacking association committed to bringing science out of labs and making it more accessible to everyone. And that, reader, may ring a bell or two.

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