BrainVR: One Step Closer to Visualizing the Brain in Virtual Reality


The three pound organ sitting behind your eyes is nothing short of extraordinary.  Symphonic activity among billions of neurons gives rise to thoughts, feelings, and ultimately the perspective and personality that makes you, you. Your brain makes a remarkable journey over the course of a lifetime — 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.

Eyewire Neurons by Alex Norton, eyewire, neurons, brainvr

Thanks to cutting edge artificial intelligence, nanoscale resolution imaging, seriously powerful computers, high resolution portable displays and unprecedented international collaboration, we teamed up with MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group to create a never-before-possible interactive immersive neuroscience visualization that debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’s Games and Media Summit.

amy sterling at tribeca, Amy Sterling, Amy Robinson Sterling, eyewire, Tribeca Film Festival, amyleesterling, brainVRIn Virtual Reality, visitors teleport into a foreign yet familiar world, exploring a new pathway of narrative: the electrophysical connections among neurons. This is BrainVR.

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 – using HTC Vive. Participants are invited to play with virtual objects and are challenged to trigger specific neural circuits which send movement information to the brain. Explore a stunningly beautiful, cutting-edge ideascape while you enjoy wonder and awe for the intricate complexity and nearly immeasurable wonder of the brain.

In 2014, we created Neurons in Space, a virtual reality experience that debuted at the TED Conference. This first VR ever shown at TED was a huge hit and catalyzed an ongoing side project at Eyewire: visualizing the brain in ever more immersive experiences. BrainVR is the latest iteration in an ongoing quest to immerse participants in the brain:

 

The combined efforts of hundreds of thousands of gamers have resulted in nanoscale resolution 3D models of neurons and their associated circuitry. These models serve as the basis for BrainVR. Learn more at Eyewire.org.

I had a fantastic time creating and sharing this experience at Tribeca. Tremendously excited to continue taking it forward. Ping me if you’re interested in collaborating! Huge shoutout to the team: Alex Norton, Daniel Citron, Scott Greenwald, Max Rose, and Julian Samal who created the sound.

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