The Synapse

How might we bring the research out from the laboratory? The Synapse is an interactive digital installation that seeks to make cutting edge neuroscience research accessible to everyday visitors. I was part of the team at the Center for Spatial Research who designed the exhibit space of The Synapse for the Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University.

Pictured above are the series of active areas of the lobby. Most notably, the “Brain Index”, which is composed of a set of screens that move up to capture and then reveal the research happening in the larger brain above them. At key moments in the choreography, the tracking screens descend to the lobby visitors to engage with them through interactive research stories exploring cognition, sensory perception, decision making, learning and memory, addiction and reward, neural networks, and DNA sequencing.

The Synapse’s various parts - from the Brain Index to the thought-like chandelier at its center - are all data-driven. They are fed by the research the scientists are sharing through social media, research papers, and dedicated reports.

I created proof of concept data visualisations, interaction and storytelling concepts to engage the general public, pulling their interest in to neuroscience through the intersections that can be made between neuroscience and art, media, psychology and more. Collaborating with journalists, architects, data scientists and of course, neuroscientists, together we created work that allows visitors to become familiar with the research that is happening in the building on a daily basis.

Date: 2017 - 2018
Details: Project website

Role: Researcher, designer, developer.
Technologies: d3.js

Location: Center for Spatial Research