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  1. Zoran Popovic
  2. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  3. Center for Game Science, University of Washington
  1. Saira Mortier
  2. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  3. Center for Game Science, University of Washington
  1. Jane Roskams
  2. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  3. University of British Columbia
Facilitators’
Choice

Mozak

NSF Awards: 1551063, R01MH116247

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12, Undergraduate, Graduate, Adult learners, Informal / multi-age

Mozak is a citizen science game put out by the Center for Game Science in partnership with the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The goal of Mozak is to have everyday people with no neuroscience background help create 3D reconstructions of actual neurons, thereby speeding up classification and understanding of these cells. In this, we hope to contribute to the understanding of the human brain as well as diseases that plague it, like Alzheimer's, depression, PTSD, and more.

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Becca Schillaci

    Becca Schillaci

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 09:43 a.m.

    Great video! This video helps me understand why playing Mozak is helpful to the field of neuroscience. I'm intrigued to learn more about the user experience. What do players learn by playing Mozak? The video mentioned that folks of any age can play - Do you have different learning expectations based on age? How do you measure learning?

  • Icon for: Jane Roskams

    Jane Roskams

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 04:00 p.m.

    When players play, they learn what can become fairly advanced skills in tracing and identifying the 3D structures of neurons- the key cells in the brain. Because the task is based in visual perception and not scientific knowledge, it can engage people of all types and ages (from 8-80), depending on how well they can follow 3D shapes. Your own brain's capacity for learning and enhancing your own capacity for spatial resolution can be monitored from one task to the next. Super-learners become our best players, and can be in-demand for labs that need this kind of help.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Becca Schillaci
  • Icon for: Monae Verbeke

    Monae Verbeke

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 11:25 p.m.

    I'm interested to know more about your users. Have you done research on who uses the game, and what motivates them to participate? 

  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:27 p.m.

    Many of our players are a bit older (not many from the Fortnite or Minecraft crowd) as the game is slower paced and methodical. Players report enjoying the calm, puzzle-like aspects of Mozak and being able to contribute to science in a way they couldn't typically.

  • Icon for: Becca Schillaci

    Becca Schillaci

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2019 | 11:39 a.m.

    Thanks for your response. I wonder, are you collecting formal data about the users' experience? (or are these reports anecdotal?). If formal data, what are you measuring from players about their experience? Thanks! Such a great project!

  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 01:11 p.m.

    We've not begin to collect formal user experience data. This is purely anecdotal from my conversations with players. 

    For our other citizen science game, Foldit, we've collected many years of formal user data, and it looks much the same.

  • Icon for: Gregory Rushton

    Gregory Rushton

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 07:10 a.m.

    I'm interested in how you collect the data generated by the players and ensure its accuracy before adding it to your library? thanks!

  • Icon for: Jane Roskams

    Jane Roskams

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 10:32 a.m.

    The different players produce work that is then used to generate a consensus reconstruction. Reconstruction scientists then look through each consensus, critique it, and compare it with automated programs. In every case thus far, the consensus has out-performed the algorithms, and often the "experts." The consensus reconstructions are added to the library collection.

  • Icon for: Kathe Kanim

    Kathe Kanim

    Program Manager
    May 16, 2019 | 07:21 p.m.

    So there are many of us who are touched in our lives by those who have PTSD, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and depression.  Are you finding that you have the level of participation that you wish to move forward with finding solutions?  How do you connect with your players?

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Saira Mortier
  • Icon for: Jane Roskams

    Jane Roskams

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 07:26 p.m.

     Great question. Fundamentally understanding how the structures of distinct cells in the brain change with "disorders" lies in understanding the basis of their intrinsic diversity in the first place. This is not known. Establishing this baseline (the relationship between structure and function) is where we are with Mozak right now. We are undergoing expansion of the program currently and, as we do, we will include more information on the roles played by the different cells being worked on by our players, and their function in the brain. We hope that this will help connect players who are more interested in learning about their brain as they play the game. Thanks for asking!

  • Icon for: Becca Schillaci

    Becca Schillaci

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2019 | 11:40 a.m.

    I'd love to try this! How do players learn about the game?

     
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    Saira Mortier
  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 01:07 p.m.

    The game is available at www.mozak.science. We've been working hard up create a welcoming, open environment where people can come, ask questions, and collaborate. We've game play and science pages on the website that outline much of the basics, however the tutorials provide everything a player should need to begin. Players also come into the game chat and ask any questions they may have. 

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 20, 2019 | 08:57 a.m.

    I visited the website for a little while, and it seems quite user-friendly and with a lot of information handily available. 

        I am curious if you have any information about what kinds of people are participating?  (I am especially thinking about age and education levels).  I could imagine that, for example, retired professionals might really be a valuable candidate pool, whereas high school students perhaps not... I registered, to see what the experience was like, and you don't ask me any questions about myself (except whether I am a neuroscienst — I'm not, I'm an ecologist :)  so I imagine you'd need to do some kind of survey to find out more about your participants. 

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Saira Mortier
  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 02:27 p.m.

    Thanks for taking a moment to check us out!

    We don't have formal data on our user-base, but from my conversations with players I find that you are right on the money. Older retired professionals or near-retired professionals seem to make up most of our players. We've actually done playtests with high school students and I can tell you... not surprisingly this isn't the type of game most of them enjoy.

    We plan to do formal surveys in the future, as we've done with our other citizen science game, Foldit. We've found a similar population base in that game as well.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

Multiplex Discussion
  • Icon for: Saira Mortier

    Saira Mortier

    Co-Presenter
    March 27, 2020 | 02:37 p.m.

    Since everyone is stuck as home right now due to the pandemic, we're holding a special challenge next week to bring us together! Scientists from the Allen Institute for Brain Science will be competing against our awesome community. Who can score highest and trace the most? We'll find out! Come connect with others while helping out science at www.mozak.science.

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