NEW YORK, April 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The three pound organ sitting behind your eyes is nothing short of extraordinary. From the symphonic activity among billions of neurons emerge thoughts, feelings, and ultimately the perspective and personality that makes you, well, you. Over the course of a lifetime your brain makes a remarkable journey — from an infant unable to speak to a capable adult able to philosophize and implement great dreams.
Our brains have evolved a special affinity for storytelling. Through narrative we share experiences. Elegant linguistic and visual combinations teach lessons from the past and facilitate fantastically imagined futures. Stories connect us with friends and loved ones. In much the same way that technological revolutions like virtual and augmented reality are transfiguring how we tell stories, innovations in an entirely different field – neuroscience – are beginning to reveal how stories make their way into that most amazing source of self: the human brain.
Thanks to cutting-edge artificial intelligence, nanoscale resolution imaging, seriously powerful computers, high-resolution portable displays and unprecedented international collaboration, interactive immersive neuroscience visualizations are now possible. BrainVR, a collaboration between Eyewire and the Fluid Interfaces group at the MIT Media Lab, debuts at Tribeca Festival's Games and Media Summit on April 18, 2016. It will be shown alongside Neuron Safari, an earlier collaboration between Eyewire and Indicated. In virtual reality, visitors will teleport into a foreign yet familiar world to explore a new pathway of narrative – the electrophysical connections among neurons.
Using HTC Vive, we'll venture into a freshly discovered circuit of cells responsible in part for the brain's ability to perceive motion – the very ebb and flow of story itself. Visitors explore giant neurons, painting with light to activate scientifically accurate motion detection circuits at synapse-level precision. They will explore a stunningly beautiful, cutting-edge ideascape and be left with wonder and awe for the intricate complexity and nearly immeasurable wonder of the brain. This is the world's first working neural circuit ever put into virtual reality.
Only a handful of circuits are mapped at this resolution, but that's changing quickly thanks to the sharp puzzle-solving skills of people all over the world. The cells on display in BrainVR were discovered by citizen scientists playing the online game Eyewire.
The brain is a dynamic, 3D object that operates across many scales of spatial and temporal complexity. By utilizing VR, researchers free their discoveries from the wall of a 2D computer screen into the immersive and often immense world that can expand around a user in VR. Suddenly, nanoscale neurons extend for meters in every direction. Tiny electrical impulses surge like giant lightning bolts. BrainVR opens a portal to a new wave of neuroscience visualization.
Visitors to the Games and Media Summit at Tribeca Film Festival will also be able to hold and inspect six different 3D printed neurons printed by Formlabs.
BrainVR debuts April 18 at Tribeca Film Festival's Games and Media Summit, which is organized by Games for Change. BrainVR is created by Eyewire and MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces group, and Neuron Safari is created by Eyewire and Indicated. It is made possible thanks to the support of NVIDIA, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Master & Dynamic, Formlabs, and Princeton University.
More background: http://blog.eyewire.org/brainvr-at-tribeca/
Amy Robinson and Alex Norton, Eyewire
Scott Greenwald and Daniel Citron, MIT Media Lab
Julian Samal, Composer
Credits: BrainVR Logo by Alex Norton and Sean O'Connor. Banner art by Alex Norton.
Eyewire (http://eyewire.org/) is a game to map the brain played by nearly a quarter million people worldwide. Eyewire challenges citizen scientists to solve 3D puzzles in order to decipher the mysteries of neural circuitry. It is one of the world's largest citizen science projects. Several peer-reviewed papers have been published thanks to Eyewire gameplay. A select list is available here. Eyewire's scientific achievements have been featured in publications including The New York Times, WIRED, and Fast Company. Eyewire's award-winning visualizations have been shown at TED and Times Square NYC.
In 2013, Eyewire created its first VR experience, Neurons in Space, in partnership with Microsoft Research. This was the first VR experience ever shown at TED. Neurons in space evolved into Neuron Safari, a free Oculus experience developed in collaboration with our brilliant friends at Indicated, a medical visualization studio. BrainVR, built in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group, debuts at Tribeca Film Festival's Games and Media Summit on April 18.
Eyewire Executive Director Amy Robinson Sterling has advised the White House and the US Senate in crowdsourcing and open innovation. She was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2015. Fast Company recently credited Eyewire's Executive Director Amy Robinson Sterling with "making neuroscience into a playground for the hot tech du jour."
Amy Robinson Sterling will deliver a presentation at 10:30 am on April 18 at Tribeca Film Festival's Games and Media Summit.
Eyewire began at MIT in 2012. It spun out in 2014 and currently operates as an non-profit organization.
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