Crux is a student-led neurotechnology club at the University of California, Los Angeles. We're a group of undergraduates who are super curious and excited about the emerging neurotech industry. We believe that the brain is single most important structure in our lives — it is our gateway to the world and the rest of our bodies. It is both the source of all of humankind's achievement and man's greatest flaw.
We are also affiliated with NeuroTechX, an international community of neurotech enthusiasts, researchers, and professionals. We derive our three pillars from them — education, community, and professional development.
What is neurotech?
Neurotech is an emerging industry that applies the latest neuroscience research to create technology capable of improving people's lives through treating psychiatric diseases, assisting people with mental disorders, and enhancing the human brain.
CruX fosters leadership, initiative, teamwork, and creativity. Our club focuses on planning and developing our own Brain Computer Interface (BCI), which is a direct connection between the brain and an external device. Essentially, it records brain signals (input) and translates them to the external device in order to perform a specific function (output). In simpler terms, using BCI, you can control things with your mind! For example, our incredible team last year developed a headset that could turn a light on once it sensed alpha waves as the user meditated (alpha waves in the brain are associated with a relaxed mental state). You can see the video they made for their neurotech competition last year:
Since we focus on a coordinated BCI project, our club is split into four subdivisions, each collaborating with each other throughout the year to plan and execute a BCI project of their choosing:
The research team is responsible for the hard neuroscience and logistics of the project. They plan the research project for the year, and thus determine what EEG data will serve as the input for the BCI. They are also in charge of this data, determining how best to collect the data and coordinating the subsequent EEG electrode placement. Since they become very familiar with the context and scientific details of our research project, they also share their neuroscience knowledge with the rest of the team.
Signal Processing Team:
Our signal processing team are the wizards who transform our raw EEG data into useful data that is ready for the software team to utilize. They work in close collaborating with the research team to improve the clarity of the input data, cleaning and filtering it so that it is ready for processing. Team members in this subdivision will learn to filter and organize big data in order to extract a meaningful EEG signal.
Our software team is where things start to get more technical. They use the clean data from the signal processing team, utilizing their coding and programming skills to transform it into an external output for the BCI. Without our software team, our processed EEG signal could not be used to incite an external action, such as turning a light on as our last BCI team accomplished.
Hardware Team: The hardware team also handles the more technical, nitty-gritty side of the BCI. They build the physical, external device that will serve as the BCI output. This may involve developing external cirtcuit boards, as they handle the finishing touches of the BCI. They ensure that there is a device to receive the EEG signal and perform the desired action in lines with the research project we choose.
Coordinating the BCI project is a team effort; however, if you're more interested in the administrative side, our board is also an integral part of CruX. Our board focuses on education about neurotech, promoting the club, fostering a community, and facilitating and overseeing the BCI project to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Why join CruX?
"Coming into college, I already knew I wanted to learn more about neurotechnology and Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs). Introduced to the field by my high school psychology teacher, I began researching ways to get involved with these emerging technologies and was lucky enough to find CruX in my first quarter of freshman year. In such a short time, I’ve seen myself and my peers travel up a steep learning curve to become knowledgeable members of a community of scientists who are passionate about growing supporting each other. By combining our understandings of brain waves and engineering, we have the capability to literally control machines with our brain waves. If that idea makes you excited, confused, or even nervous, I highly recommend joining us to learn more about how you can build your own versions of BCI and other neurotechnologies while engaging in meaningful discussions about the future of this tech."
-Manya Bali, B.S. Neuroscience, 2022
"Having been isolated in the theoretical and tech industry based practices of computer science, I began to reach out of my usual branches of familiarity and pursue the interdisciplinary. I first joined the bioinformatics group ZarLab in order to learn about the applications of computers in genome sequencing. To explore another application of computer science that contributed to advancing research, I discovered neurotechnology. I had no prior experience in neuroscience research or learning so I hoped to use the experiences I gained from CruX to delve further into the field. Learning about the available consumer technologies in the industry, ranging from wearables that diagnosed Alzheimer's to headsets that remediated Parkinson’s disease, I was enthralled to join the BCI team and involve myself fully in the development of neurotechnology. Utilizing my previous background in application development and cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) systems, I collaborated with my teammates on the software front of the BCI project. I now hope to contribute to health-technologies and advance the field of medicine through optimizations in software and AI. Neurotechnology still remains nascent, open to game-changing developments in the future. I encourage anyone who has the passion, regardless of the amount of experience, to be a part of this constantly developing field through CruX. “
-Sei Chang, B.S. Computer Science and Engineering, 2022
“I was intrigued by CruX because it integrated technology with studies with the brain. The cognitive science program at UCLA does a great job in integrating code with brain sciences, so I thought joining CruX would be a good move to dive more into the field.”
-Annmarie Cong, B.S. Cognitive Science, 2021
"CruX is more than just an organization. CruX represents exploration, innovation, and a space to unravel the most questionable results of research. Although my ultimate goal in life is to become a pediatric neurologist, the field of neurotech has always sparked my interest. Since joining UCLA, I have noticed that there are very few clubs centered around neuroscience. To my understanding, there are only 3 clubs that are relatable to neuroscience but neither of them attempt at participating as active members in the fight to advance this new and complex field. As a founder, that was the inspiration in making this club. We wanted to create a space where students could explore their interests while exposing themselves to useful skills that they can apply in the future. One day, futurama is going to be a reality, and we, the minds of neurotechnology, will be the only ones capable of understanding the complexity of artificial intelligence.”
-Chris Hernandez, B.S. Neuroscience, Minor in Spanish, 2019
“It’s incredible how much we don’t know. I love science because it allows me to observe deeper into the complexity that is life. But the science I’ve learned has never answered what I’ve always questioned: what and why am I? This is the question that ultimately led me into the world of psychology and neuroscience. Although I’m still learning the dynamics of this artificial world, I have realized it is missing something. It is missing my own observation. I can learn about what others have come to understand about our mind and our consciousness, but the value these understandings hold fall away as mere intricate labels. I have to see for myself how my mind works. But how can I possibly do this? Well, CruX was able to teach me about neurotechnology and in a workshop, I was able to see my own brain waves, as a plot of data-- sure -- , but I was able to see my own brain in action! This is an incredible feat that was once unimaginable and seeing one’s own brain waves is barely scratching the surface of what is possible. Neurotech has given us a new way to observe; the question I now ask is, Now that we can see what can we plan and do?”
"Honestly, I have always been intimidated by technology, despite at the same time knowing that it is crucial to any aspect of our modern world. I was afraid to learn about many heavily tech-oriented fields because I never learned coding or programming. However, CruX has changed that, and I now appreciate more than ever the applications of technology in the fields of neuroscience and medicine, fields I am passionate about. CruX has equipped me with the tools to understand the incredible uses of neurotechnology and brain computer interface in research, medicine, entertainment, and so much more! Now, as a blogger, I am so excited to communicate this science to a more general audience, but if you are even remotely interested in technology or neuroscience, I would definitely consider joining the club, it is a truly unique experience."
-Shanaya Sidhu, B.S. Neuroscience, 2022
"With bioengineering becoming established and differentiated, I realized this was the perfect time for me to begin exploring the various sects of biotechnology and CruX was the perfect club to do just that. Prior to joining, I held great interest in BCI, virtual reality, and neuroscience, in particular, how these technologies could enhance medical treatment, however, there were no clubs on campus that targeted this particular niche. CruX has allowed me to further explore the various applications of BCI and the current frontiers of the neurotech market through weekly discussions and workshops. Being a part of the BCI build team, I’ve had the opportunity to delve deeper into the workings of neurotech. As a hardware developer and research assistant, I’ve gained a deeper, solid understanding of the challenges met within the field, of which has helped build my confidence in my own abilities and paint a less intimidating picture of what neurotechnology is. To anyone who is looking for a space to learn introductory hard skills, I would highly encourage you to join. It’s a safe environment where you can experiment and meet other individuals who share your passions. “
-Aly Ung, B.S, Bioengineering, 2021
“When I started college, I was fairly confident that engineering would be the right fit for me, but I had no idea what I wanted to do as an engineer. However, I did know that I had always been fascinated with the complex nature of the brain, and I wanted to learn more about the powerful and intricate circuitry in our heads. Naturally, this combination of interests led me to CruX, and consequently, the rapidly growing field of neurotechnology. Through the BCI team, I have been able to explore how powerful the intersection of engineering and neuroscience can be, and I have had the opportunity to contribute my knowledge of programming and circuits to create something with huge implications in the field of medicine. I was also able to learn so much from my fellow teammates, from the biological processes of the brain to working with Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Naturally, there were some frustrations along the way, mostly due to the fact that neurotechnology is still a very young field and there is little information available for those breaking into the field, but these obstacles also made success more rewarding with the knowledge that we were contributing to a young but impactful field. If you have any interest in the brain, medicine, or engineering, regardless of experience, you should join CruX and the BCI team. It is a great opportunity for interdisciplinary learning and contributing to a very influential field.”
-Eugene Yang, B.S, Electrical Engineering, 2022
“I am the kind of person who needs to share useful information with the people around me. Naturally, when I started researching the neurotech industry, I wanted to tell all the neuroscience majors at UCLA that there was a whole world outside of an MD or PhD degree… Although all the consumer devices that will come from neurotech will definitely be the next tech trend, the most exciting part of neurotech is that it offers a new avenue in health care, specifically for chronic and mental disorders and diseases. We’re currently in the age of neuroscience, and every day neuroscience research is making headlines. As we form a better understanding of the workings of the brain, an organ that is connected to every other part of our body, we essentially have a new way of listening to and manipulating our bodies. Drugs and pharmaceuticals will become a thing of the past for mental illnesses and disorders. For instance, TMS has been shown to treat depression more effectively, and with fewer side effects, than antidepressants. Neuroscience and its vast applications across industries will be the future, and I’m ready to be a part of it.”
-Vicky Yuan, B.S. Neuroscience, Minor in Global Health, 2019
How do I join?
Click on the "Membership" tab on the top of the webpage!