Backyard Brains Logo

Neuroscience for Everyone!

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

items ()

Four Directions: A RoboRoach Love Story by Olivier

Hello, my name is Olivier and I am a junior in neuroscience at Michigan State University, but for the rest of the summer Ann Arbor is my home as I work on a research project as a Backyard Brains intern! My goal is to improve upon the roboroach by adding further directional control. Left and right was a good start, but it’s only halfway there! Presently the roboroach consists of an electrode placed on the cockroach that feeds to a ground wire in the thorax and two stimulation wires, one in each antenna, which can be used to electrically stimulate the cockroach to change the direction the cockroach is facing. I am attempting to changes to the device and surgery to make the cockroach move more forwards and backwards using stubby antennae-like structures called cerci. Cerci are located at posterior end of the abdomen and serve as sensors to alert the cockroach to oncoming danger, usually a predator, and initiate an escape reflex that quickly moves the cockroach out of harm’s way. Cerci do this by responding to the changes in air current.

The goal is to commandeer both cerci in order to steer the insect directly forwards or backwards (more…)

Backyard Brains Welcomes Interns from MSU

Summer is finally shining rays of sunlight on our lovely hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and with it Backyard Brains is welcoming its newest bright minds from Michigan State University’s Undergraduate Neuroscience department. Marta, Olivier, Alex, Cort, and Dylan met in the BYB office at the early hour of 10am (well, early for a college student during the summer!) Monday, June 2, to begin familiarizing themselves with the other members of the BYB team, our experimental procedures, and the plans for the next two months.


Each of the five students is planning on writing a research paper, with the goal in mind of each having a publication by the end of the summer. The topics include:

  • Operant Conditioning of Cockroaches
  • Four Channel RoboRoach
  • Circadian Rhythms of Cockroaches
  • Optogenetics with Drosophila
  • RoboScorpion