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Backyard Brains appears in Wired Magazine

For the past nine years, Tim has had a subscription to Wired Magazine, and he always read the articles on the internet revolution, learning about the drama, personalities, and technology involved with the rapidly changing world of computers. Longingly, he has despaired, wishing neuroscience and biology R&D could be similarly fast with low barriers to entry. We at Backyard Brains are trying to change that, and so it was a special treat this month to be included in the print version of Wired. If you strain your eyes on page 153, you’ll see a postage stamp sized picture of the SpikerBox in the 100 geek gifts for the holidays. Perhaps the soldering iron will replace the wiimote for some folks this year [Disclosure: we love the wii too and take no political/intellectual stance regarding video games].

We also recently returned from the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego (full post coming soon as we round up the pictures), and we give thanks for the Society for sponsoring our trip through the Next Generation Award,and to the Journal Neuron, which also sponsored us through the Anuradha Rao Memorial Travel Award. We’re working hard; thanks true believers!

SpikerBox Make and Take Workshop

We’ve often been told “I’d love to make a SpikerBox kit, but I can’t solder!” Well, if you live near the Backyard Brains World Headquarters (a living room in Ann Arbor, MI) you are in luck. We are putting on a “Make and Take” workshop on Sunday, December 5th.

This workshop will teach you everything you need to know to build, solder, and assemble your very own SpikerBox. Once completed, we will run some experiments so you can record spikes on your very own creation.

Spots are limited. More information is available online. Hope to see you there!

Microstimulation Experiment: Yes, you can excite the leg with your phone

Another common request we get from users is “Can you stimulate the leg as well?” to which we have always replied, “Yes, there are some stimulation circuits we can build, we have that idea in the queue.” Which means, of course, that the idea is relegated to the backlog of the many cool things we can work on given our limited resources, which by extension means the prototype development will be awhile.

But happily, we realized were overthinking it! It turns out the output of headphone jack on a computer/iPhone is1.3 V, with a maximum output of 750 A. Tim seems to recall (shameless self-promotion) from his graduate work that those voltage/current levels are well above the requirements to excite muscle and nervous system tissue. Fellow colleagues, we now present, to our growing video lab, how to do your own microstimulation experiment!