We're a little crazy, about science!

Big idea progress!

This is a little late, but for the past few weeks I’ve been taking my time working on some of the “big idea” dataset we collected a while ago. The first of many, I hope. There’s been a lot of work, but it doesn’t feel like much because it’s all behind the scenes stuff. Kind of like you can build a home, but until it’s finished it never really looks more complete. Well at the beginning of the week I finally had some answers, while there are still a lot of questions, so far so good.

It’s been a minute since we talked about “big idea” so to recap (for those who don’t want to read the original post), it was an idea I had almost a year ago now. It was going to be the first of its kind and there was a high probability for success, but there’s always a chance it could go horribly wrong or we could find that it didn’t work at all. Big idea was what I hope to be my major contribution to science and I still hope that will be the case even though we’re just starting to scratch the surface and there’s so much work to be done still.

About a month ago I rushed some data through a hastily made pipeline and popped out an answer. We had something, but that was for the “easy” data to process. Between that still very small look and the fact that the code I wrote for it was rushed (to say the least), it still wasn’t clear if we had something or if we just wanted to have something. The underlying theme isn’t exactly, “what did we find,” instead it’s “how can we apply what we found to help better.”

That was the overarching question left to me by hospital-PI and while I had opinions (because I’m full of opinions), I didn’t have answers. However, I was up until roughly 3am Monday morning processing more of this data so we could finally have another look at what we actually have. And so far it looks like there’s something going on that we may be able to use, but there’s still more questions than answers. Because when isn’t there?

While I can’t say we absolutely did something incredible, I’m mostly confident that we have something usable and I just need to find the right way to show it. Thankfully I went from the easiest data to process to the hardest data to process, because it was the most interesting case to me. I still have data that would be far easier to make sense of and that’s the data I’ll be working on over the next few days. It’s exciting and I’m hopeful we have something impressive.

Hospital-PI is fully onboard with the project and has already suggested we arrange a meeting with some of our collaborators on the project to show what we found. I think that’s a great idea and will hopefully speed up the data collection for the project. Ideally we would have anywhere from 4-9 more datasets collected before we publish it and if we could be on the higher side that would be more ideal than the lower end.

There’s still so much work to do frankly. I have a ton of different ways I could analyze the data and visualize the data. So the next steps are to find out the big picture and decide what we want to publish on first so I can narrow down what I’m doing to something more focused. Most of what I’m doing is looking that the big picture, but with projects like this (any sort of EEG or related project really), it’s hard to see the patterns of activation in all that data. While you can see something making sense of it isn’t easy, so right now we need to figure out how to zoom in on specific things we want to do.

For now I’m happy my brand new function is up and running and can produce the figures I want. It was a ton of work, but it’s so worth it now that I have it done, or at least mostly done! I plan on using it for both the hospital side and the school side, so it was time well spent and it will save me so many headaches in the future.

Oh and on somewhat related, but equally exciting news, tomorrow is the last day in this year’s 365 days of academia project! We’ll be kicking off year four soon and that, with a little luck, will be the last year of the project. I’m not sure what will come next, but that’s a problem for another day. As always, thank you all for joining me on this little adventure. It’s been fun and it’s not quite over yet!

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