Brains and blinky lights: an update

An art installation at the Exploratorium’s Cognitive Technologies exhibit

Wow, post-SfN fatigue really took its toll on my posting frequency, eh? But I would like to draw your attention to a few pieces I’ve been working on that came out elsewhere recently, and share a few photos I took at the Exploratorium last week.

Here’s my labmate Alit trying out the brain-machine interface at the Exploratorium.

Just today, my coverage of the Exploratorium’s new exhibit went live. My dear pal Natalia invited me to cover it and I’m so glad she did. I highly recommend going to check it out. Invite me if you go, because there were a few things I didn’t get to try out because of all the people milling around. The exhibit contains the flashiest of flashies, and yet, I think its greatest contribution lies in its willingness to allow people to experience the limitations of what brain decoding and other technologies can do. Go put on an EEG headset, and when it tells you you’re relaxed, or excited, or whatever, ask yourself if you think that’s true. Then go tell your anti-vaccine relatives what you learned about the difference between being a single datapoint and really synthesizing a literature. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Dry electrodes stud a repurposed scuba cap to drive a brain-machine interface. DIY at its finest!

Dry electrodes stud a repurposed scuba cap to drive a brain-machine interface. DIY at its finest!

A bit ago, I wrote about my favorite poster at SfN, by former Berkeley grad student Taraz Lee. Check it out here. Taraz studies choking under pressure, and he uses both non-invasive brain imaging techniques and mad scientist brain-zapping techniques to get a handle on what’s going on. Truth be told, I’m more excited about the preliminary brain-zapping results he told me about, although I covered his imaging work here. Can’t wait to see where he goes with it!

Oh no, it's....THE CLAWWW!!!

Oh no, it’s….THE CLAWWW!!!

Finally, the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, my home, my science family, got a freshly revamped website! They’ve focused on compiling their very own news section, pulling coverage from around the interwebs, but also recruited me and other grad students to do some ($$$PAID$$$) in-house public relations. It’s been a long time coming, but the first of three pieces I wrote for them, singing the praises of our legitimately awesome Brain Imaging Center, is here. In writing these pieces, I’ve had so much fun interviewing lots of Berkeley people, some I knew, most I did not. This one, the BIC writeup, is close to my heart because I’ve always known that the BIC was special for the level of independence and education it gives its users, and this gave me a chance to hear the real backstory.

A schematic from the Cog Tech exhibit

A schematic from the Cog Tech exhibit

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