Virtual Neurophysiology Workbench

The DIY Brain Lab! Developed to improve the accessibility of neuroscience education.

FAQ
  • What is neural engineering?
    • Neural engineering is a specialized area of biomedical engineering, defined by the Journal of Neural Engineering as "an emerging interdisciplinary research area that brings to bear neuroscience and engineering methods to analyze neurological function as well as to design solutions to problems associated with neurological limitations and dysfunction"[1].  In other words, neural engineers are biomedical engineers who learn about the brain and other parts of the nervous system and develop new ways to help those with neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders.  
      • [1] Durand, DM, 2006. What is Neural Engineering?  Journal of Neural Engineering, 4.
  • What are neurons and how do neurons communicate?
    • Neurons are one of the primary cells that make up the nervous system.  There are approximately 86,000,000,000 neurons in your brain alone! [2] They are the units that send information throughout your brain, from your brain to the rest of your body, and from your body back to your brain.  Neurons are why we can think about, move, and feel our bodies and the environment around us.  

      Neurons can communicate by sending chemical and electrical signals to each other.  Every neuron in your body is connected to many other neurons that it can either receive or send signals to.  Neurons receive signals through their dendrites, which allows the cell body and axon to generate an electrical signal that is sent down to the other end of the cell and transfered to the next neuron in the chain.  It's kind of like a tiny, super fast game of telephone.  The electrical signals that are generated and transfered are called action potentials (get it? They have the potential to cause an action in your body!).  We can record and create action potentials within the nervous system with specialized equipment.  Although doing this in live animals and humans is difficult and requires years of study, with the Virtual Neurophysiology Workbench, we can simulate neural signals, record them, and learn about how our nervous system works!

      • Azevedo FA, Carvalho LR, Grinberg LT, et al. Equal numbers of neuronal and nonneu­ronal cells make the human brain an isometrically scaled-up primate brain. J Comp Neurol. 2009;513:532–541. 
  • What job and career opportunities are there for people interested in the neural field?
    • There are many opportunities in the neural field in academic/research, medical, and industry.  Occupational opportunities in the fields of neuroscience, neural engineering, and the medical sciences in general are expected to grow much faster than average through 2024 [3].  Neural engineers work with and design medical devices to improve upon and develop new therapies for those with dysfunctions such as paralysis, brain injury, psychiatric illness, movement disorders, and many others.  Neuroscientists attempt to unmask the mysteries of the nervous system through experimentation and observation.  Both of these fields provide opportunities for careers in research, education, and corporate fields.  There are also many opportunities in the field of medicine to study and work with the nervous system.

      There are a great number of opportunities for jobs and careers in the neurological field!  You may be surprised to find that your local university or a nearby laboratory has openings for internships or other positions.  We encourage you to search for these opportunities and follow your interests to find what is most exciting for you!

      • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/).

General Q&A Forum

Please submit any questions you have about our experiments or any of the information presented on this site and we will attempt to answer all questions to the best of our ability.  For answers to questions about specific experiments (Workbench labs or user submissions), please select the experiment title from the menu.  Users are encouraged to answer others' questions and promote scientific discussion.  

Troubleshooting Forum

Please submit and questions and/or issues that you may be having with software, models, making your agar brains, using your own brain, or any other problems you are having with your neuroscience endeavors.  If the problem is specific to a Workbench or user submitted experiment, please select the relevant title from the dropdown menu.  Users are encouraged to assist each other and promote scientific discussion. 

Instructions for Submitting Experiments

Please provide a description of your experiment telling others how it is performed as well as a brief summary of your results.  Upload all relevant model files and code in a compressed folder.  Indicate any software used in addition to what is used in the Virtual Neurophysiology Workbench videos.  After you have uploaded your experiment, questions in the Q&A forum can be linked to your experiment by the title you provide.  You may opt to receive an email notification when a user submits a question about your experiment or specify that you would not like to be contacted.  Any insight you can provide others who may be having issues, although not required, is much appreciated!  Thank you for your submission!  We are excited to see what you have developed!

Contact

For answers to questions regarding experiments and other information presented as part of the Virtual Neurophysiology Workbench, we encourage you to go to the Q&A forums and take part in discussions with your peers.  There are separate forums for general questions and for troubleshooting various issues.

For all other inquiries please email Christopher Butson, PhD at butson@sci.utah.edu or Shana Black at shana.black@sci.utah.edu 

Thank you for your interest!