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Spikeling: A low-cost hardware implementation of a spiking neuron for neuroscience teaching and outreach

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posted on 2023-06-09, 15:42 authored by Thomas BadenThomas Baden, Ben James, Maxime Zimmermann, Philipp Bartel, Dorieke Grijseels, Thomas Euler, Leon LagnadoLeon Lagnado, Miguel Maravall RodriguezMiguel Maravall Rodriguez
Understanding how neurons encode and compute information is fundamental to our study of the brain, but opportunities for hands-on experience with neurophysiological techniques on live neurons are scarce in science education. Here, we present Spikeling, an open source in silico implementation of a spiking neuron that costs £25 and mimics a wide range of neuronal behaviours for classroom education and public neuroscience outreach. Spikeling is based on an Arduino microcontroller running the computationally efficient Izhikevich model of a spiking neuron. The microcontroller is connected to input ports that simulate synaptic excitation or inhibition, to dials controlling current injection and noise levels, to a photodiode that makes Spikeling light sensitive, and to a light-emitting diode (LED) and speaker that allows spikes to be seen and heard. Output ports provide access to variables such as membrane potential for recording in experiments or digital signals that can be used to excite other connected Spikelings. These features allow for the intuitive exploration of the function of neurons and networks mimicking electrophysiological experiments. We also report our experience of using Spikeling as a teaching tool for undergraduate and graduate neuroscience education in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.


A window into the fly brain: “dual imaging” of neural circuits involved in locomotor behaviour in Drosophila; G2180; MRC-MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

NeuroVisEco - Zebrafish vision in its natural context: from natural scenes through retinal and central processing to behaviour; G1871; EUROPEAN UNION; 677687

Anisotropic retinal circuits for processing of colour and space in nature - Lister Institute Research Prize; G2503; LISTER INSTITUTE

Optical Electrophysiology: Establishing fluorescence voltage imaging capability at Sussex Neuroscience; G2018; MRC-MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

Anisotropic retinal circuits for processing of colour and space in nature; G2397; BBSRC-BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL; BB/R014817/1

Philip Leverhulme Prize - Biological Sciences; G2276; LEVERHULME TRUST; PLP-2017-005


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