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?
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.)
It takes a practiced hand to be able to take complex, abstract ideas, and describe them in simple ways. In many ways, this is the job of educators. We take it upon ourselves to grapple with abstractions and find novel connections, comparisons, and metaphors to help others understand a new idea.
Brod Bagert, who we met at this most recent NSTA, has a fun and effective approach to teaching students about science. Citing that dramatic forms help students understand and retain new information about Science better, Brod has written a series of poems, plays, and monologues which illuminate the intricacies of different scientific fields in funny and heartwarming ways.
I wanted to share this poem, reproduced with permission from Brod’s book, Systematic Me, which will teach you, in surprising depth, about the role of neurotransmitters in sending information throughout the body.