Neurotic Neurons: Axon

By Adam Smith on March 20th, 2012 at 5:30 pm.

The red tendrils represent Cthulhu's dreams

Commissioned to accompany the Brains: The Mind as Matter exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, Axon looks a little like flOw, except it’s much more hectic, with short games and high scores.

The game challenges players to grow their neuron as long as possible; climbing through brain tissue, out-competing rival neurons and creating as many connections to distant regions of the brain as they can.

This involves clicking on nodes in an effort to climb higher and higher. A speedy mouse finger is essential as a rapidly shrinking sphere marks the areas that are accessible and once no unclaimed nodes are within it, it’s gameover. Brain freeze. Play it here and read more (silly) below and (clever) here.

I like to think of it as the process my mind goes through when writing a post; the green boost nodes that automatically build connections are the equivalent of discovering the perfect pun. The purple nodes that expand the zone of influence are a delicious cup of coffee. Once a game is complete, links point outward to articles about parts of the brain. It’s sobering to know that I just built a pontine mossy fibre projecting neuron and sure beats simply having 10 million points.

Axon is from Preloaded and it’s not the first time they’ve gone all science on us. Remember the Futurecade stuff? That was they as well.

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5 Comments »

  1. jaronimoe says:

    It looks like a clicky-clicky version of Aura-Aura Climber, if you know what I mean.

  2. Unaco says:

    “You’ve grown an Oculomotor neuron”

    No, not really. I’m guessing it just takes the length you achieved and attributes a neuron type to it based on that, neglecting ALL other features of neurons (as far as I’m aware, axon length is not used to identify neurons like this, certainly not as the only factor used for identification). The amount of branching (far too much) from the axon would also suggest (as it’s an OCM Nucleus neuron) that the protein nodes I was chasing were drebrin (DNB1) and this was an example of abnormal axon growth. Also, no cell body migration. No myelin sheath. No Pia Mater (these axons should be leaving the skull to synapse with the eye muscles). Also, axons don’t grow like that, really, it is far more complex. It’s a process of Protrusion, Engorgement and Consolidation, modulated and controlled by many factors including gene expression regulated by many different types of proteins.

    Personally, I’ve always felt that the brain and neurons are much more suited to puzzle style games, perhaps something along the lines of:

    http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/neurubiks

    It was kind of nice that the neuron it gave me after my first go was a neuron type that I study tangentially though.

    Signed,

    A Neuroscientist.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Perhaps myelination will be included as DLC?

      I’d also like to see missions that give you an arbitrary and socially constructed behaviour such as criminality or sexuality and task you with finding the part of the brain that is responsible for these. That would be a true neuro-skeptic game!

  3. olpolpolpolp says:

    http://lnk.co/ILTHN
    this stuff is very cool