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Medicine Open Source Hardware Build Science Technology

Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the freeing-things-up dept.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "The equipment that neuroscientists use to record brain signals is plenty expensive, with a single system costing upward of $60,000. But it turns out that it's not too complicated to build your own, for the cost of about $3000. Two MIT grad students figured out how to do just that, and are distributing both manufactured systems and their designs through their website, Open Ephys. Their goal is to launch an open-source hardware movement in neuroscience, so researchers can spend less time worrying about the gear they need and more time doing experiments."
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Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience

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  • by mandginguero (1435161) on Friday June 13, 2014 @04:04AM (#47227953)

    True, but imagine how bringing the cost down can lower the entry barrier for things such as teaching labs. My best course by far in undergrad was an electrophysiology course where we recorded action potentials in earthworms with just a couple electrodes and a differential amplifier hooked up to an old macintosh. Getting these technologies lower in cost may not alleviate quality concerns for high throughput research (which is what some of the quoted established company reps are saying in the article). But imagine how cheap the next iteration of these could be? An order of magnitude lower for the openBCI 8 channel EEG system http://www.openbci.com/ [openbci.com]. And with scalp potentials and a 512 hz sample rate you can measure muscle potentials too, not just brain. If you could find a way to increase the sample rate you could do things like galvanic skin response too.

  • by mandginguero (1435161) on Friday June 13, 2014 @04:21AM (#47227987)

    you can use published results to validate your new equipment. if you can find the same trend in the data, same, and at least similar order of magnitude, then you are on the right path.

  • "Brain signals" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday June 13, 2014 @08:41AM (#47228911)

    This has always bothered me with the current state of neuroscience: The whole point of nerves/brain matter is to communicate/remember/transform information, but we're still relying on crude external cues like heat/bloodflow/electrical activity to tell us "somethings happening around...here", and that's pretty much it. It always bothers me when I hear the term "brain signals".

    Nerves should be able to query their neighbors about their state, and the state of other nerves - otherwise, they wouldn't really be able to form something like a mind (as in, "the mind is what the brain does"). Why still can't we find a way to just "ask" the nerves what their state is?

    Even in our simulations, we just represent nerves as nodes that grow associations - but those associations are useless, unless they can be traversed in queries by the system, to gather inputs, and send outputs at all levels.

    Are we getting anywhere close to a stage where we can communicate with nerves to use that same communication system that logically must exist for it to function? Seems like even with limitations, that would be a LOT more useful than analogously inferring from traffic levels what the function of buildings in a city are, like we're doing now.

    Ryan Fenton

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