In May 2017, I launched Every Mind Online, a collaborative open neuroscience research community dedicated to developing MMOSCs, or Massively Multiplayer Open Science Collaborations.
The goal of this community is to get more brains involved in the study of brains, a first step towards a new way of doing neuroscience research, which embraces the “measurement problem” in neuroscience. In other words, if we believe that one cannot capture the full state of a system while one is within or part of that system, how do we study the organ system that lets us study anything and everything?
Neuroscientists currently try to tackle this challenge by examining everything from cellular mechanisms to whole organism behavior, from millisecond changes to evolutionary adaptations, from electrical signals to chemical cascades. There are so many measurements being made of the brain, even as we struggle to connect the numerical data from our labs to the emotions, thoughts, and interactions we experience everyday “in the wild”.
At the same time, every living human has a brain and uses it – all of it – every day. We have all been running “neuroscience experiments” our whole lives, from when we first figured out how to walk on two legs to earlier today when we navigated our way through morning traffic. Our movements and our habits reflect how we understand the world and how we learn.
I believe that this experiential knowledge is crucial to our understanding of brains and minds. Part of involving more humans in the neuroscience research process is about sharing our experiences as brain-users, and creating an accessible vocabulary to discuss these qualitative, hard-to-measure things about living with a nervous system. I believe this shared vocabulary will help us make connections between our life experiences and the data we collect from our neuroscience experiments.