Psychiatric medicine today has a bit of a predicament. Neurotransmitters are an often fickle beast to deal with; this makes explaining their function to medical students and patients very difficult. With Open Mind, visualizing neurotransmitter pathways is easy, making understanding the mind simpler for the average person.
How it works
An Arduino Due controls digital logic signals, which are sent to a breadboard and wired into a plastic skull model containing a network of LEDs. The LEDs line the skull in three colors: red, green, and blue, showing pathways for norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin respectively.
Challenges I ran into
The top level GUI was scrapped due to difficulty syncing the Arduino program with a C++ program for data input. Thus, data input is currently hard coded. Additionally, hardware can be difficult to control due to the need for strong connections to pass electrical current. While wiring the circuit, many LEDs experienced weak connections, which led to many rewirings and adjustments in the circuit to find the best possible results.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The circuit that connects the LEDs to the Arduino was a challenge to set up physically. Making so many LEDs and wires work in such a small space and with limited resources was a feat.
Also, each member of our team worked with something new. John made his first Arduino program, Jeremiah worked with QT for GUI, Karen designed her first web page, and Brienne wired her first circuit.
What I learned
Every member learned some new skill as mentioned in the previous section. John made his first Arduino program, using only knowledge of Verilog HDL as a background for how the delays work. Jeremiah worked with QT for GUI, spending several hours learning QT's interface. Karen designed her first web page, which is linked below. Brienne wired her first circuit and learned how circuits work well enough to do the majority of the breadboard wiring.
What's next for Open Mind
This technology could easily expand into educational tools for more body parts. The heart, muscles, digestive tract, and other parts of the body could be modeled using LEDs in a plastic model. These can be shown to students of all levels that are learning about how the body functions as well as patients that have ailments affecting them and are curious about what exactly is happening in their body.