Backyard Brains Logo

Neuroscience for Everyone!

+1 (855) GET-SPIKES (855-438-7745)

items ()

BYB Diplomacy: Teaching North Korean Refugees

north korean students using backyard brains equipment

— Written by Tim Marzullo —

Backyard Brains’ mission is to spread neuroscience around the world. Our motto is Neuroscience for Everyone! So naturally, when a group of MIT undergraduate students led by Jiwon Kim contacted us, telling us that they were interested in our equipment for some classes they were teaching at Yeomyung School in Seoul, South Korea, we were very happy to help.

Yeomyung school is a school in downtown Seoul that helps North Korean refugees and children of North Korean refugees integrate into the South Korean society. The institute purchased four of our Heart and Brain SpikerBoxes to teach about the science of electrocardiograms (EKGs) and electroencephalograms (EEGs).

The equipment was delivered through our Korean distributor Osunhitech, who also attended the class with us. Backyard Brains helped teach the class and interacted with the students, along with the MIT students, Luyao Tian and Tiffany Louie, helping everyone with their experiments to see their own brain and heart rhythms.


Apply Now for IEEE Brain Virtual Summer School – YaIEEE!

A two-week online course on neural engineering spruced up with some signal processing and machine learning – is there a better way to spend two weeks of August? Plus, you’ll tinker with a BYB Heart and Brain SpikerBox – and you’ll get to keep it too! Full details here.

If you’re as hyped up about FREE neuroscience education opportunities as we are, you’ll want to know that this course will teach you:

  • Neurophysiology and brain organization
  • Brain data acquisition and signal processing
  • Basic and advanced neural coding using machine learning

All lectures are conveniently divided into AM and PM sessions, so your brain can have some me-time in between studying – why, the brain of course!

Best of all, it’s not just theorizing but a great deal of hands-on experience, thanks to our little pal SpikerBox. Since the course will be held online in the best tradition of social distancing, you are welcome to apply from anywhere in the world!


Buenos Aires – The Latest Stop on The BYB World NeuroTour

Hey hey! It’s Etienne Serbe again, with an update on BYB World NeuroTour! You’ve seen us in Germany, Portugal, and Brazil (see here and here). Now we’ve move onto Sao Paolo, Florianopolis, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires. We work with Universities on how to improve common neuroscience knowledge. We also spread the word outside of academia. In this case, the backyard (true to the Backyard Brains style) of a hostel in Sao Paulo and a home in Montevideo!

Scientists tend to drift into their ‘Science Bubble’. They miss chances to share their work with peers and the unaware but deserving populace. Yet, if you devise a way to make it easy for them to understand and relate with empathy, their interest will follow.

‘Small Talk’ at random places can often turn into spontaneous EMG demonstrations

We experience a large general interest in our audience about neuroscience, but spreading engagement is not always an easy task, as neuroscience is a complicated subject which is perceived as very difficult to understand. The lack of education combined with popular myths (such as “we only use 20% of our brain”) are some of the many challenges we face as neuroscience educators. With these misconceptions, people tend to conclude neuroscience as daunting and thus unapproachable. To tackle this, we at Backyard Brains and the BYB World NeuroTour have used engaging techniques with demos, illustrations, and an open environment to discuss neuroscience.

Here, I want to highlight two occasions on the NeuroTour where we most recently brought neuroscience to the public. The first was a spontaneous ‘Arte meets Science’ session in the backyard of a hostel in Sao Paolo. We taught neuroscientific principles to the hostel crowd, most of whom had little neuroscience education. In the end, everyone understood how neural potential changes evoke, display, and send messages!

The second was an event called ‘Action Potentials Served for Dessert’ in Montevideo. After having dinner with our lovely hosts, we gathered once again to try to understand action potentials. We demonstrated the human-human interface and tried to find alternative movements that could be evoked by it, rather than the standard wrist movement. We also looked at potential use of a EEG headband that detects blinking (see the tutorial for the Electrooculogram).

We had a great time with new friends of all nationalities, ages, and professions. Welcomed with open arms, we received a lot of help to conduct our outreach and travels. And in return, what we provide all comes back to a familiar mission:

‘Neuroscience for Everyone!’

So don’t forget: share your work! Improve interdisciplinary communication and access to neuroscience everywhere.
Onto the next stop! The Backyard Brains Bus will carry us to Patagonia then to Santiago de Chile. We’ll check back in soon! Stay tuned.