## First project deadline!

I didn’t have anything particularly lined up for today to add to the “in statistics” posts I’ve been doing, so today I thought it may be better to outline what I’m doing in the statistics course I’m taking. At the very least it may help me get it done, because as usual around here, the project is due… today. Yep, it’s yet another mad dash to the finish. Will I make it? Will I ever figure out what statistics is? Will I learn to stop asking questions in this format? Find out all this and more!

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## Two populations in statistics

As a mad scientist, or maybe just a grumpy scientist, you want to test a new mind control technique! To do this you decide that you want to test this works by having people select one of two objects set in front of them. *Insert evil laugh* Using your mind control technique you want your unwitting participants pick the object on the left. You don’t get 100% success, but suspect it’s working, how do we know for sure?

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## The hypothesis in statistics

As promised today we’re talking statistics for experiments! It’s more interesting than it sounds… okay it’s exactly as exciting as it sounds. Depending on who you are that’s a lot or not at all. No matter where on the spectrum you fall, knowing how it works is useful. So we’re starting at the beginning and discussing what a hypothesis is and how we test it.

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## The last PhD requirement

We’re already at the end of the month, how the hell did that happen? It’s been close to a month and a half since the term started and it feels like it’s flying by. I realized that when I first started this project I covered a lot of the stuff I was learning at the time. In fact one of my previous class notes posts was in my top 10 highest viewed blog posts for 2020. Somewhere along the line I stopped doing that, so today we’re going to talk about what I’m taking this term, why I’m taking it, and why I’ll probably be adding a few step by step instructions for how you can do what I’m learning too in some of my upcoming posts.

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## A look ahead

With the weather trying to kill everyone, the pandemic trying to kill everyone, and just life in general I feel like things are moving…. slooooow. I have a weekly meeting with my main-PI who reminded me that I’m behind and while he agreed it was probably due in part to the pandemic, it’s time to try and catch up. There is a lot going externally and internally, but I’m hoping that by covering a few things here I will have a nice little list I can refer back on and keep me on track. That’s the idea anyway.

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## My scicomm video is done!!

I finally finished my video for the outreach project my main-PI tasked me with (this was the last post talking about it). There was a lot of time, effort, frustration, and I will admit, some not so kid appropriate language I was using during the editing process of the video. Mostly because I’m an idiot who had to find the most difficult way to do this project. Today we’ll cover what I did, how I hate myself enough to do it, and the end result. Let’s just say I’m not going to be a movie director or actor anytime soon…

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## Scientific figure design

Well I’ve done it… sort of. I edited the grant for the semi-last time. Now we’ve got a working copy that reads the way we want it to read, so it’s off to the scientific writer to read over it and make sure it sounds good. You would think that means my work is done, but no. I need to do arguably the hardest part and create some of the figures we will use in the paper. Writing well takes practice, but making a good figure, well that’s art.

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## A new science outreach project

Today we’re making a movie! Okay, it’s not a movie persay, it’s a virtual outreach project I’ve been tasked with by my main-PI. Unlike most outreach I do, this is going to take some planning, a bit of script writing, a easy to do exercise that can be followed at home, and lastly a little write up on everything going on. So when I say some planning, I mean a LOT of planning!

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## I’m going into surgery… sort of!

Okay well this came out of left field, or rather happened faster than I thought it would. My Co-PI and I had discussed just last week seeing some of how the more clinical stuff gets done in terms of electrophysiology and invasive monitoring. He suggested I shadow some of the doctors while they are performing surgery to see how they do the things they do and now I’m about to get the chance to do just that. Yeah, that’s a lot of doing.

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## More data surprises!

Well I’ve finished with the new dataset I collected for my PhD project, it was a fast analysis so there is still a lot more I can do with it, but I’ve finished at least the initial processing and plotting. Overall it’s good news so now I’m just waiting to hear back from my Co-PI to confirm my findings or more than likely temper my excitement.

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## An early present

Since my deadline has come and gone I can look around for a moment, but more importantly I don’t feel the pressure to hyperfocus on a single project. So today instead of working on that dataset I’m switching to a dataset I need to get done before my PhD proposal defense. It’s data that will (assuming I find something) further help make my case for studying my new “super secret” technique for the next 2-3 years depending on how long everything takes.

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## How can we record from the brain non-invasively?

We can read your mind! Okay, not quite, we can read the electrical activity going on in the brain and we can do this non-invasively. That’s right, you can do it from your own home if you wanted (here). It’s easy and since you don’t have to break the skin, it’s about as safe as can be. The real question here is why does this even work? For that we need to talk a bit on biology so let’s do this!

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## The stress of an education

I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment. I’m sure that’s probably true for most people, but in academia it’s somehow considered normal that you balance the tightrope of sanity while more and more pressure is added to you. It’s a toxic environment for sure, more so now that COVID and current affairs are gumming everything up.

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## COVID and Education

Today I received an email from the Chancellor of the school I attend. This is the person that is in charge of the entire university school system (since there are several campuses). The email was with regards to a survey that was sent out asking how comfortable we would be with returning to school with the pandemic going on. Why it was up to popular vote is beyond me.

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## The politics of education

It’s time to make a minor shift back to the focus of my little daily posts and that’s getting a PhD. Technically even the most political of posts are part of this journey, but I think it would make sense to discuss the link a little more explicitly since we never made the connection and I think it’s important.

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## Day 254: Review – A Brain to Spine Interface for Transferring Artificial Sensory Information

Experimental setup for artificial sensory discrimination using DCS and brain-to-spine interface. (a) Rats were implanted with recording electrodes in motor cortex (M1), somatosensory cortex (S1) and striatum (STR) and dorsal column stimulating electrodes in the thoracic epidural space.  (b) Behavioral setup for artificial sensory discrimination using DCS (c) Setup for the brain-to-spine interface consisted of two modified aperture width tactile discrimination boxes.

If you ever were to read one of my review papers, this one’s for you. It’s so awesome and falls in line fairly closely to the things I want to accomplish, albeit going a different route to get there. I’m super excited to share this with all of you and I hope I did the study justice in my summation and while I admit, I had far too much enthusiasm with this one, it shouldn’t take away from just how amazing this is, see for yourself! The study is open access too, so if you want to know more details, you can go take a look!

## Day 239: Review – Burst-modulated waveforms optimize electrical stimuli for charge efficiency and fiber selectivity

Example processed nerve responses during stimulation trials. The individual CNAP responses for each stimulus (thin traces) were averaged (thick trace, n=20 stimuli). All traces are shown from time 0 to 6ms. The top trace corresponds to an amplitude of 0, the bottom 1mA, and the traces in between are arranged in increments of 0.2mA. Peak latencies and heights (o’s) and widths at half peak height (x’s) were extracted from the averaged signal. The peaks labeled for the 0mA trial are due to noise and baseline activity. These peaks are not actual response peaks from the nerve and are ignored.

Another two weeks, another critical review and as always since my PI gets a copy, so do you. Technically this should’ve come yesterday, but I really wanted to follow up with the Roosevelt mess going on. In any case today we are looking at something not quite spinal cord stimulation, but has applications in the spinal cord stimulation field. Let’s take a look!

## Day 236: Ugh, coder’s block

Okay, maybe not just coder’s block, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. Every homework assignment I’m given for this class includes a “create your own problem and solve it,” element and for the first two assignments I feel like the topic sort of found me. We can talk about what those two projects were, but let’s first talk about this latest assignment.

## Day 235: Video making issues

I’m not normally one for making videos, in this case I have to make (or rather narrate) two videos for this class. The first one was for our big class project and the second was explaining the COVID-19 model I created. It turns out narating isn’t as easy as it looks, even with a script.

## Day 234: Learning… at a distance

Believe it or not, I don’t mind the quarantine. I mean sure going out without the fear of catching the coronavirus is nice, but I’m not generally a social person. There is one thing that has taken some getting used to however, that would be the education portion of the quarantine. Distance learning isn’t particularly enjoyable for me and I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one.

## Day 224: Review – Cortical and Subcortical Effects of Transcutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulation

Experimental set-up. (A) Participants were comfortably seated in a customized chair during transcutaneous electrical spinal stimulation (TESS) or sham-TESS for 20 min. TESS was delivered using a surface electrode on the back of the neck between C5–C6 spinous processes segments (cathode) and a surface electrode in each anterior crest of the hip bone (anode) using a custom made 5 channel stimulator (BioStim5, Cozyma). Electrophysiological and behavioral outcomes were tested before (Pre) and immediately after, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75 min after the end of the stimulation or sham stimulation period. (B) Schematic representation of the type of current used during TESS. We used 5 biphasic pulses at 5kHz with each biphasic pulse lasting for 200us. The middle scheme shows the blocks of 5 biphasic pulses passed at a 30Hz frequency. Lower part of the schematic shows the number of pulses delivered in one second.

Well it’s been two weeks since the last critical review so it’s that time again. As usual, my PI gets a copy and so do all of you. Since I’ve done several of these now (this is number six) I have a category just for these reviews called critical reviews. This is a really new study which tries to help tease apart what we are actually stimulating when we apply transcutaneous spinal stimulation. I think it’s a super interesting paper and I hope you do as well.

## Day 210: Review – Cervical trans-spinal direct current stimulation: a modelling-experimental approach

Average magnitude of the E-field and average amplitude of its components in the spinal-WM in all montages along the z axis. Position of spinal segments is marked on the grey vertical bar, electrodes are represented by vertical bars and active connectors are marked with letter “A”. Volume plots of the E-field magnitude in cervico-thoracic spinal-WM, brainstem and cerebellum are represented at the right of the average distribution in each montage, with the corresponding colour scales

I lied! I did know what today was going to be on, it’s the fifth critical review paper. Since my PI gets a copy, so do you! To be honest, I need to create a category for these reviews (Update: I did make a category, Critical reviews), but for now, my first looking at elbow spinal stretch reflexes is here. My second where I review modulating spinal cord excitability with a static magnetic field here. The third where I review modulating the H-reflex while walking in spinal cord injury populations. Lastly, my fourth on Motoneuron excitability during voluntary muscle activity in a spinal cord injury population  can be found here. That said, let’s take a look at my latest review.

## Day 196: Review – Changes in Motoneuron Excitability during Voluntary Muscle Activity in Humans with Spinal Cord Injury

Figure 1. Experimental setup. A, Schematic representation of the hand showing the ulnar nerve and F-waves recorded from the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle. B, On the left side, schematic representation of the head showing the electrodes placed at the cervicomedullary junction and on the right side a raw trace showing a cervicomedullary motor evoked potential (CMEP). C, A cartoon showing the concept of the visual feedback. Individuals were tested at rest (left single horizontal line) and during 5% (middle double horizontal lines) and 30% (right double horizontal lines) of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC).

A little detour from our spinal cord series for my fourth critical review paper. As usual, my PI get a copy and so do all of you! You can read my first looking at elbow spinal stretch reflexes here. My second where I review modulating spinal cord excitability with a static magnetic field here. Or the third where I review modulating the H-reflex while walking in spinal cord injury populations. Today is an interesting paper on motoneuron excitability while walking in spinal cord injury populations. It’s a really cool paper, so here’s my review.

## Day 182: Review – Modulation of soleus stretch reflexes during walking in people with chronic incomplete spinal cord injury

Figure 2 of the paper showing examples of the soleus H-reflex (labeled H) during standing  and during different phases of walking in a participant without known neurological injuries (top) and in a participant with chronic incomplete SCI (bottom).

Today is my third attempt at a critical review paper. Since my PI gets a copy, so do all of you! You can read my first looking at elbow spinal stretch reflexes here. Or my second where I review modulating spinal cord excitability with a static magnetic field here. Today is an interesting paper on soleus stretch reflex and H-reflex. I really appreciate the methodology the researchers used and they did an excellent job of highlighting the limitations to the study, which is always important. Per the usual disclaimer, this is my third critical review, so you can take my opinion n the methodology and findings how you will. (more…)

## Day 168: Review – Static magnetic field stimulation applied over the cervical spinal cord can decrease corticospinal excitability in finger muscle

Figure 1 of the paper showing how the intervention was applied to the spinal cord

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is my second critical review paper. You can read my first looking at spinal reflexes here. Today we are looking at a novel way to modulate spinal cord excitability. Overall I find the paper very interesting. Although the authors performed a limited experiment and no follow up (as of now) has been done, it still looks very promising and would provide a new way to explore the circuitry of the spinal cord. This is my second attempt at a “critical review” so you can take my opinion on the methodology and findings how you will.

## Know your spinal cord – Tract organization

For those of us just tuning in, today is the third part in a … well a lot of posts on the spinal cord! If you’re just joining us, you should probably start from the top (literally) here and this post covers the anatomy of the cord. Today we are going to talk spinal organization, for that reason we also should talk about how the brain is organized, which will help us make sense of why the spinal cord is organized the way it is, so let’s get started!

## Know your spinal cord – The anatomy

Now that we took it from the top, let’s get an overview of what exactly makes up the spinal cord. There is a lot, so we’re not going to do a comprehensive review since that would be a whole class and not a single post. Most of the structures we cover today, will have a seperate post where we can go into detail.

## Know your spinal cord – Medullary Pyramids

I’m excited that today we are starting the know your spinal cord series that I’ve been working on. Today we are going to take it from the top, no really. We’re starting at the top of the cord and we will work our way down. So without further delay, let’s look at the curious case of the medullary pyramids!

## Day 156: Experiment results

Well to say it’s been a busy week is probably an understatement and it doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon. As it stands today was the end of our data collection. We managed to get ~15 subjects to go through our protocol and while I cannot share anything (yet) I can talk about the stuff I’ve learned and what is coming.

## Day 155: Experiments!!

So it turns out when you have 12 hours of experiments to do there isn’t much time for other things. Yesterday we had 3 experiments, today we have another 3 experiments (technically I’m writing this yesterday night, confusing I know). So basically I don’t have a whole lot of time to write. I’m going off to get some sleep and tomorrow (today, again confusing I know) I get to do this all over again. I hope wednesday I will have a bit more time and we can get into why the spinal cord is so cool! In any case, stay tuned!

## Day 154: Review – Spinal stretch reflexes support efficient hand control

Fig 1 (a) from the paper, showing the multijoint perturbation away from target (red) with simultaneous flexion at the elbow and either flexion, extension, or no perturbation at the wrist joint.

Today is that critical review paper I promised. Everything following this introduction explains how the experiment was done, what they found, and why I think it is particularly interesting. To me the experiment was so well thought out I couldn’t think of anything I would change. Instead I focused on the methodology they used and why it highlights the importance of a well thought out experiment. This is really my first attempt at a “critical review” so take it how you will.

## Day 153: The week ahead

Tomorrow is more experiments! We’re doing all the experiments tomorrow. Okay, not all of them, but we have an ambitious three experiments lined up for tomorrow so it will definately be a long, long day. Still recovering from surgery too… so yeah it’s going to be a time. There are a few other things going on this week, so let’s look ahead and maybe talk about what I’m thinking of doing for the next round of themed posts (educational topic posts).

## Day 67: On being a student coordinator

Look at my beautiful wiring job!!!!

I figure we can finish out the week by talking about yet another project that doesn’t involve my research. I’m a student chair for a workshop for neurotech entrepreneurs. Fun fact: I’ve never done this before. Yep, there has to be a first time for everything you do and this will be my first time attempting to run one of these things. Let’s talk about what that looks like. (more…)

## Day 66: Sometimes we learn more from failure

Not everything can be safely laser cut…

It has been a busy week, as you’ve seen I’ve had not one, but two Skype a scientist sessions in one day, then we did some outreach with some local 4th graders, yesterday I even posted photos of the event. Yesterday I also had a conference call to help set up an event that I’m helping run for neurotech entrepreneurs. If you follow me on twitter, you know I’ve pushed people to apply for it. So let’s talk about what I’ve got going on today!

## Day 65: Lab Tour photos

As you may have seen, yesterday we had our lab tour group come through. So today I just wanted to share a few photos from the time they had with us, it was a lot of fun and hopefully we inspired a few kids!

## Day 64: Lab Tours!

Just hanging out with some exoskeleton friends.

When doing your advanced degrees (Masters or PhD) you end up with a lot of different responsibilities that have nothing to do with your education. That isn’t to say that it isn’t an important thing or that I hate doing it, you just don’t learn anything with regard to your study subject. Today is one of those days, let’s talk about it.

## Day 63: The Importance of Science Outreach

Today is Skype a Scientist day! Every term I volunteer my time and try to explain my journey, my research, and my pitfalls with students all over the US. Technically this is my second session (of six!) this term, but I wanted to talk about why I do what I do today. So if you’re interested in what it’s all about, keep reading.

## Day 7: Small waves, or wavelets!

This is the Meyer wave, a representation of a so-called mother wavelet function to use for the wavelet transform. Notice that it is finite!

Waves! We’re officially one week through 365 Days of Academia! Woo! 1 week down, 51(.142…) weeks left! Let’s wrap up this weeks theme (there wasn’t originally a theme, but it kind of ended up that way) by talking about other ways we can get to the frequency domain. Specifically, let’s stop the wave puns and let’s talk wavelets!*

## Erasing unpleasant memories with a genetic switch

Researchers have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a ‘genetic switch’.  Dementia, accidents, or traumatic events can make us lose the memories formed before the injury or the onset of the disease. Researchers have now shown that some memories can also be erased when one particular gene is switched off.

## Neuroscientists discover new learning rule for pattern completion

Recently, scientists discovered a new learning rule for a specific type of excitatory synaptic connection in the hippocampus. These synapses are located in the so-called CA3 region of the hippocampus, which plays a critical role for storage and recall of spatial information in the brain. One of its hallmark properties is that memory recall can even be triggered by incomplete cues. This enables the network to complete neuronal activity patterns, a phenomenon termed pattern completion.

## Forgetting, to learn

They say that once you’ve learned to ride a bicycle, you never forget how to do it. Unfortunately for students who hope this applies to studying, they might not like new research suggesting that while learning, the brain is actively trying to forget. While this may at first blush seem like a bad thing, it actually may be useful for those suffering from PTSD.

## ‘Delayed remembering’: Kids can remember tomorrow what they forgot today

For adults, memories tend to fade with time. But a new study has shown that there are circumstances under which the opposite is true for small children: they can remember a piece of information better days later than they can on the day they first learned it. While playing a video game that asked them to remember associations between objects, 4- and 5-year-olds who re-played the game after a two-day delay scored more than 20 percent higher than kids who re-played it later the same day.