Welcome to Backyard Brains

Backyard Brains offers a series of exciting and affordable entry‐level Brain Recording Kits that provide the ability for students of all ages to learn about neurons.

For the first time ever, school children and amateur scientists will have access to similar tools used by neuroscientists worldwide to study Electrophysiology: the electrical activity of neurons. By following a few simple steps, everyone can experience how the brain is able to communicate our senses, memories, hopes, and desires!

Watch the SpikerBox in Action!

Want to know how the SpikerBox works? Let's take you through the steps of how to record your own neurons. You can also hook it up to any computer to record and share your spikes!

How do our Brain Recording kits work?

Cells of the nervous system, called neurons, are specialized to carry "messages" through electrical pulses traveling down long extensions called axons. By using metal wires, it is possible to "eavesdrop" on this conversation. Our kit contains the tools to record from invertebrate animals (cockroaches, crickets, crawdads) by using a simple bio-amplifier and filter. The input of our kit connects to two neural probes (metal needles) which are placed into a living insect. The output is neural activity, or "spikes", that can be heard via a built-on speaker, or seen on your computer, iPhone, Android, iPad, or iPod Touch (see below).

Our SpikerBox

The SpikerBox is now in production and is shipping to amateur enthusiasts, professional scientists, and students worldwide. While you are waiting to get your hands on one, please take the time to view (and hear!) the SpikerBox in action:

The Backyard Brains SpikerBox.
Simply place the needles in your specimen and turn it on! You will instantly hear spikes!

Using our iPhone cable, you can
view and record your spikes on your iPhone/iPod (the app is free). No iPhone? You can also hook the SpikerBox up to a standard computer.

You can listen to what neurons sound like above. In this recording, you hear many action potentials (or "spikes") from neurons in the cockroach leg that sound like "popping" or "rain". In this recording, there were 5 small puffs of air made onto the leg. Can you hear and see where this was? The increase in pressure on the leg hairs causes an increase in spikes. This is known as rate coding.

Want to try spike sorting neurons from a cockroach yourself? You can download the Matlab file of our first recording. We look forward to hearing about your results.

Our Latest Experiment

Backyard Brains brings you an experiment on how to measure human muscle action potentials (EMGs)!

For those into nostalgia... We still have our first and second commercial available online. Are the production values getting better or worse? You decide!