We almost ran out of pens at the world’s biggest neuroscience conference! This year’s Society for Neuroscience (SfN) was the first in-person meeting since 2019. And we’re really happy that it happened. Firstly, we’ve so missed the nerdy vibes of sci-comm bustle. Secondly, taking a stroll under palms in sunny San Diego feels really nice in November! Last but not least, it would have been downright impossible to sign copies of our new book online.
Because that’s right, our new book, “How Your Brain Works: Neuroscience Experiments for Everyone” written by our co-founders, Drs. Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, has just been released by MIT Press! It’s a lengthy volume yet easy to digest, and even easier to keep open as you fiddle with electrodes, insects or your own nervous system in your classroom or home lab.
The book contains over 50 experiments you can do anywhere you want if you have one of our SpikerBoxes. But even if you don’t, you can always flex your engineering abilities and DIY one using our open-source schematics!
The classroom-ready, open-ended experiments include:
- What does our brain do when we exercise or hold our breath?
- How do our brains tell our bodies to jump, dance, or sing?
- How fast do signals travel down a neuron?
- Can we really enhance our memories during sleep?
- How does the brain get your attention?
- How do brain stimulators (used in treating Parkinson’s disease) really work?
- How long does it take the brain to decide?
- And many more!
— Written by Tim Marzullo —
South Korea (called the “Republic of Korea” locally) is a great fit for Backyard Brains. The country is famous for investing heavily in technology and education, having modernized at a mind-boggling pace since the ceasefire of the Korean War (1950-1953). Over the past two years, we have been working closely with a Korean company, OSUNHITECH.
They have been in business for the last 25 years, and are about 3x the size of Backyard Brains (the size is important – there are only three layers of management at OSUNHITECH, so decisions can be made relatively quickly and negotiations tend to be efficient). They primarily produce microscopes (and are an official importer for Zeiss), are focused on the educational market, and have been looking to expand into neuroscience and molecular biology. Microscopy and neuroscience walk hand in hand, so we were open to discussing an alliance with them when first contact was made.
This summer’s been a busy and buzzy season for spreading the word on DIY neuroscience! As part of the outreach activities, our crew hit Paris to attend FENS (Forum of European Neuroscience), Europe’s largest international neuroscience conference. We set up shop there and demoed the latest upgrades of our bioamplifiers. And got sore muscles from cycling along the Champs-Élysées!
The schedule was jam-packed with sci-comm activities, with over 7,500 fellow neuroscientists, graduate and doctoral students as well as teachers partaking in scientific symposia, poster presentations, workshops, mini conferences. (Hanging out, caffeinating and exchanging ideas with other nerdy folks at the rooftop terrace was also a huge part of it, especially in the mornings and evenings.)
Our booth was one of the liveliest spots. For who doesn’t itch to get a taste of a powerful brain-computer interface packed up into a couple of little orange boxes made world-famous by TED?
Or to engage in a cyborgian cup stacking contest using our robotic arm called The Claw…