22nd September 2023

A Virtual World of Live Pictures

Technology and Computer

A new mouse maze emoji to increase scientific representation on social media?

A brief focal point article published in Lancet Neurology questions whether implementing a mouse maze emoji could prove useful in representing the advances made in neuroscientific research.

Emojis are small digital icons that are used in digital communication, often conveying emotion or context that may be missing in conversations over text.

“Developing scientific and medical emojis is important to encourage science to become a greater topic of conversation on social media and internet platforms. We saw with the pandemic that the microbe emoji became one of the most commonly used emojis on Twitter, and that is indicative of how much a singular scientific emoji can amplify scientific messages and global health concerns during pressing times,” said Suhanee Mitragotri (@SuhaneeMi), a student at Harvard College.

“Not only that, but emojis are a universal method of communication and bypass the spoken language barrier that prevents scientific conversation between people who speak different languages. We are campaigning for the creation of the mouse maze emoji. Few emojis represent neuroscience, which is the career, area of study, and passion of millions of people across the globe. The mouse maze has played an incredibly important role in neuroscientific discovery and drug development thus far and concurrently has important cultural significance, and we are excited to develop an emoji that represents such a crucial part of neuroscience.”

Mitragotri and colleagues write that the maze was first used in the 1890s and has been important in the study of spatial learning and memory. Since its inception, several variations of the maze have been developed, allowing for the study of neurology in mice and other animals.

“Many of the emojis that are currently on our keyboard are present because people came together to advocate for them. Mazes are still widely used in neuroscience and developing better mazes leads to better drugs for important psychiatric outcomes like depression, anxiety, dementia, and stroke. It also helps us improve on learning and memory studies. Mazes can also serve different purposes, such as those designed to study octopi to understand non-mammalian brains better, or mazes for AI robotics to help challenge and develop better and safer artificial intelligence,” Mitragotri told PsyPost.

“The main question now is regarding the development of this emoji. After submitting the emoji to Unicode (the standard for all characters, including emojis) in 2024, we hope to see the emoji released on all platforms in 2026. What will this emoji look like?”

“Also, another large question to be addressed is regarding how this emoji will look on different platforms, as typically each company, iOS vs. Android, for example, will have a slightly different version of the emoji.”

Mitragotri added, “We would greatly appreciate it if you could spread the word about our initiative to get a mouse maze emoji developed and published in Unicode. Our website has more information on this. Additionally, please follow our Instagram and Twitter @ConductScience to learn more about this campaign and stay up to date on our progress.”

The article, “A neuroscientific emoji”, was authored by Louise Corscadden, Suhanee Mitragotri, and Shuhan He.