I am Derek Arro, a senior student at High School Alberto Blest Gana in Santiago, Chile. Currently, I have been working at Backyard Brains for 2 weeks, and I’m in charge of helping to write the manuscript for the experiments my team did with plant electrophysiology last semester. Backyard Brains is an incredible team that designs very educational and eye catching experiments.
In our case, we recorded the electrophysiology signals of various plants to a flame stimulus. To register the signal, we used the Backyard Brains Plant SpikerBox (amplifier) by wrapping a silver electrode covered with conductive gel around a branch and with a ground electrode connected to the…. ground. Our stimulus consisted of a flame applied to a leaf next to the silver electrode (see pictures above and below). Last semester, my classmates collected data on 14 different plants, from the famous Chilean Araucaria tree to normal basil herbs. We observed responses between 5-20 seconds after the flame stimulus in about 50% of our observations. After that, we uploaded our data analyses in Google Colab. This model serves to allow more researchers more access to the data to make a catalog of physiology of plant electricity and projects for people who want to start something in science.
Hello. I’m here again! And this will be my last update on my neuromathematical project. If you don’t remember me, I’m Natalia Díaz, and I’m doing my university internship at Backyard Brains.
(If you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I say neuromathematics, check out my first and second blog post.)
In the last part of my internship, I have been working with the Python platform. It is great to do the experiments but we must also learn to interpret them. And as every numbers geek knows, there is no better way of doing that than math and statistics!
Until now, Backyard Brains have been using the Matlab platform for EEG analysis, but they’ve always wanted to achieve the same (or at least similar) result using Python. So, they asked me to try to “translate” the work they had already done, showing increased alpha wave power in the visual cortex when the eyes are closed.
At first I was a little scared, since I know the Python language, but I am not an expert! But as I worked on it, I realized that it was not difficult and that I knew more than I thought I knew. So I managed to make a code on this new platform that did the same as what they had. I must say that Matlab is easier for (a bit more complicated) math operations, but with a little effort and searching you can get a good result in Python.
Below you can see the spectrogram of the EEG of the visual cortex as we opened and closed our eyes. Look at that alpha wave power. It worked!
Realizing that I had done a good job (I think haha), BYB’s co-founder Tim asked me for a little more statistical analysis by creating new graphs and calculations. And I did it! By analyzing all the data of alpha power during eyes closed versus eyes open, and using boxplots, I can now show statistically that alpha power is higher in the visual cortex EEG when the eyes are closed. I think a p-value of 0.003 is convincing, don’t you?
Finally in summary, I am very happy to finish my internship having been able to help Backyard Brains with my knowledge and above all by having combined what I like the most: mathematics and neuroscience. My protocol is already on the website under our experiments page – “Quantifying Your EEG.” I hope they are happy with my work and consider me in future projects where they need neuromathematical help.
See you soon!
Say Hello to Another BYB Intern & Budding Neural Engineer
I recently worked with Backyard Brains during a short 1 month long internship to modernize two of their Muscle SpikerShield Experiments – Controlling a Stepper Motor and Controlling an LCD screen with your muscles. Why did they need to be modernized? Because the new controller chips have now become so inexpensive my new protocol is a breeze. Tim and I worked together at various cafes in Nuñoa and downtown Santiago, and after only one burned out chip, my project finished quickly! As a result of this internship, I now have a small neural interfaces workshop in my house and stay in touch with BYB. In my spare time, when not learning next-gen engineering, I enjoy building gaming PCs and (of course) soccer.
Since the last time we met (you and I, that is), BYB co-founder Tim Marzullo sent me some cool stuff. Not that it’s an exclusive privilege of interns, mind you! Anyone can find them in the “Muscle SpikerShield Bundle” kit.
With this bundle, you can do several very entertaining experiments such as seeing on your smartphone the action potentials that are produced when you move your muscles. You can also use the Muscle SpikerShield to control video games, robotics, and musical instruments.
It took a while for my board to pass customs, but it managed to arrive and we got to work right away. What I was most excited about was the arrival of new prototype from Backyard Brains – their very own customized Arduino board – codenamed NeuroDuino. (See above how handsome it is!)