California hip-hop group Cypress Hill is known for many things, including the nasally stylings of lead vocalist B-Real and its annual and self-explanatory Smokeout Music Festival event.
But a wacky new science experiment involving neural control and a Longfin Inshore squid is bringing new meaning to the group's hit 1993 crossover track "Insane in the Brain," or in this case, the membrane.
Backyard Brains, a group of neuroscience-obsessed educators and innovators, posted a video of its latest mad scientist experiment, in which members stimulate a squid's ultra-sensitive pigment cells in time to the hit song.
According to The Verge, the brainy team was inspired by a paper published in the Royal Society journal , in which researchers studied the neural control of tuneable skin iridescence in the ancient cephalopods. Using an iPhone and a suction electrode, the team jerry-rigged a device that sent audio, in the form of electrical signals, pulsing into the squid's dorsal fin. As the voltage changed, so did the pigment cells.
Joe Hanson, the mind behind science blog It's Okay To Be Smart, explained: "When an audio signal is converted to an electric signal, basically what happens inside a microphone, that electric voltage can be applied to tissues."
A squid's pigment cells, or chromatophores, have tiny muscles that contract to expose the pigment underneath. In nature, the cells of the squid adjust their pigmentation to dramatically and rapidly absorb or reflect light, according to Discovery News. The innovative music video created as a result of the experiment records the amazing kaleidoscope effect of the musically induced cell contractions, at an 8x magnification rate.
The experimentations took place at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. This is not the first time the Backyard team have found neuroscience inspiration in American pop music. In one example, a cockroach leg is stimulated by the Beastie Boys.