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Neuroscience for Everyone!

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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!

Are There Any Prerequisites?

When we say that neuroscience is for everyone, we really mean it. But this is an advanced course, so if you want to have a really great time, you do need some basic programming knowledge (Matlab and/or Python, as always). And, of course, knowing your way around linear algebra, calculus and probability is a big yaIEEE.

Kudos to the people who kindly made it possible, José C. Príncipe from University of Florida and Yiwen Wang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The application deadline of 17th July is nigh and only 20 lucky students will get to enroll, so you’d better hurry!

While at it, be sure to check out the IEEE Brain Initiative treasure trove of resources on neuroscience, including their phenomenal podcast, webinars, TED Talks, and more.

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.

The BYB World NeuroTour


My name is Etienne Serbe and I just recently finished my PhD at the MPI for Neurobiology in Germany. Two years ago I met Greg and Tim during the Summer School ‘Methods in Computational Neuroscience’ and it was love at first sight 🙂 We stayed in contact to figure out common future projects and that’s how the BYB NeuroTour started.

How the brain works is one of the biggest mysteries of humankind and although Neuroscience became one of the biggest research fields, I see its importance and publicity underrepresented in society as well as education. That’s why I set out with my friend Georg Kolb (civil engineer) to travel and talk about Neuroscience.

The journey started Dec 6th in Germany, where I was invited by the Health Hackers Erlangen (, an initiative that supports creative ideas and technologies in health care. Due to their medical focus I presented three ‘human’ Backyard Brains experiments: the electromyogram combined with human-human-interface (HHI), the electrocardiogram (ECG), and the electroencephalogram (EEG). Thanks to a really open and interactive group of 20 people it was possible to successfully perform the experiments in a laid-back atmosphere.

The next station was Coimbra, Portugal. Here, people involved in a science communication program that offers advanced neuroscience courses ( wanted to learn more about the BYB products and their potential use in their classes. Special thanks to Daniela Brum and Prof. Carlos Duarte, who organized this session followed by a tour through the beautiful and historical city of Coimbra.

After that we crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Prof. Olavo Amaral invited us to his 7th edition of ‘no-budget-science’ ( These events host students with scientific ideas or projects that require no or little money, an ideal setting for the BYB products. We really enjoyed the session (including impressive alpha-waves in the EEG experiment) and the inspiring discussion afterwards. Due to Olavo’s efforts we could also experience the ‘Carioca’ life style with its open minded and friendly people.

We now moved on to Sao Paolo and are heading further to the south. Unfortunately, our trip coincides with the summer vacations of most South Americans. So to anyone who is living in South-South America: don’t hesitate to comment this post if you want to become part of the BYB NeuroTour.