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Winter break is over, and it’s time to take this project head-on.

Over break, I ordered and received all of my electronic parts! I now have a big box of wires, chips, electrodes, conductive gels and other wonderful things needed for this project to succeed.

Not surprisingly, having a box of items that I haven’t really used before is kind of intimidating.

I’ve decided that I should follow the original circuit from the website first before I try to add more electrodes. Adding more electrodes into the circuit is proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be. The Instructable recommends using a multiplexer to alternate between multiple electrodes, but I’ve been told that adding more electrodes would require a whole new amplifier circuit for each new electrode. Looking forward, the project is still feasible without the addition of the extra electrodes, although not as favorable. I would only have two electrodes plus a reference electrode to work with, which would make the original plan of having the prompts and multiple read points more difficult.

However, I remain optimistic! This project is definitely a learning process for me, and I’ve been seeking help from friends and online forums of experienced electronics users. Online help has been very useful, and I plan on continuing to discuss any problems I come across with the forums and my peers.

I’m still unsure about how I want the base of my generative art output to look. However, I found this really great book – The Nature of Code by Daniel Shiffman – which looks at the Processing language as a means of expressing naturally found algorithms from the outside world. It’s been a huge inspiration, and it’s gotten me started on trying to figure out exactly what I want. I found the section on fractals to be particularly interesting, since the tree fractals he created remind me of dendrites on a neuron.

FractalTreeNatureOfCode

I’ve been looking a lot at brain imaging techniques and stains for inspiration, too. I really like brainbows – pictures of neurons stained using different fluorescent proteins, so you’re able to see the individual cells. I think a lot of its appeal comes from its applicability and its ability to be beautiful bioart at the same time.

anotherbrainbow
Mouse neurons stained using the brainbow technique.

Another technique I’ve been looking at is DTI, or Diffusion Tensor Imaging, which is an MRI method. DTI examines the flow of water in the brain during a scan, which allows for visualization of the white matter tracts of the brain – the axons of the brain’s neurons. The Human Connectome Project, a huge neuroscience project that has been around for a few years that aims to map the brain’s connections, utilizes Diffusion Spectrum Imaging, which is very similar to DTI but is more accurate. The axons are colored based on their trajectory: red indicates X axis, green indicates Y axis, and blue indicates Z axis.

25-white-matter-fibers-HCP-dataset-corticospinal-tract-and-temporal-lobe Tracts-3-720x517

As I research, I also find little equations about calculating certain brain related functions and processes. I’m hoping to be able to incorporate these equations, in addition to other natural algorithms. I want the code to reflect its creator, and I hope I can do the brain justice.

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