Introducing the 2016 Mozilla Science Fellows: Teon Brooks

Hello world! My name is Teon, I’m from Charlotte, NC (Go Hornets!), and a Carolina alum (Go Heels!). I am finishing my PhD at NYU in cognitive neuroscience (defending today! Oct 13! #TeonDefends). Soon I will be a researcher at The Center for Reproducible Neuroscience and in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University.

As a researcher, I am interested in understanding how the brain processes language via its storage and retrieval. I am also interested in understanding what exactly does this “mental dictionary” of words look like.brain_glassesbrain_book

I use some pretty cool technology:

I use a machine called an MEG, which stands for magnetoencephalogram. It kind of looks like Cerebro, and we use it to measure very, very small, like femto-Telsa (0.000000000000001 T!) small, magnetic fields that our brain produces when it does a task.

This is Professor Xavier using Cerebro.

This is a magnetoencephalogram. It measures tiny magnetic fields in the brain.

This is a magnetoencephalogram. It measures tiny magnetic fields in the brain.


I also use eye-tracking equipment. This allows me to look at your eyes as they scan the world and take in information. I use it to understand the eye movement behavior the brain produces to process  written text. I look at the way your eyes from word to word, sometimes staying a short while or sometimes hopping along to the next word.

This is a head-mounted eyetracker from Pupil Labs. #opensource

This is a head-mounted eyetracker from Pupil Labs. #opensource

I also work on developing software that allows us to take all this data in and make sense out of it. There are two major projects that I am working on: the MNE project and the OpenEXP project.

MNE is a community-based project for researchers and developers who are interested in analysis MEG and EEG data (see what we did there ;) ).

The MNE project

The OpenEXP project is envisioned as a collection of projects to make science great again! Its core product, expfactory, developed by Vanessa, allows us to run a battery of psychology experiments on the interwebs. A related product, openexp, developed by me and Andy, aims to build on this and jsPsych and create a desktop-friendly app for researchers and learners, alike.

We want to build on this core product, and re-imagine how experimental psychology and cognitive science is taught. There are developing plans to redo introductory psychology with hands-on experiments, coding, and more.

Me volunteering with the Biobus

I love teaching and I recently piloted a new workshop on DIY Cognitive Science. With my friend, Piya, and our awesome team of volunteer instructors, we taught a two-day workshop in Bangkok, Thailand (#DIYSciThai) on building eye-trackers and EEG headsets. Our goal is to team up with the OpenEXP project and teach coding, hardware hacking, and basic cognitive science, making it accessible to all.

M demoing a DIY eyetracker and EEG headset

Me demoing a DIY eyetracker and EEG headset

Follow along my adventure. My goal is to create open-source software that help researchers get stuff done, learners get stuff learned, and bring science to everyone in an accessible way.

Twitter: @teon_io
GitHub: @teonbrooks