Online game about safety and the nervous system

  • Go on an adventure
  • Help your friends
  • Solve puzzles
  • Test your knowledge
  • Learn and have Fun
Apple app download Googleplay app download
watch trailer


Annually, 250.000 - 500.000 people suffer spinal cord injuries, mostly due to preventable causes

Neuropal aims to help recognise risky situations and adopt safe behaviours that may prevent serious injuries, while also exploring the anatomy of the nervous system and the important functions it performs.

The game takes us on an adventure with two friends, Neuropal and Neuro, vacationing on a tropical paradise where unexpected events force everyone to escape. Neuropal will have to move through different landscapes and challenges to leave the island safely. Every completed level can be replayed as many times as we want, to show off our new safety skills and improve our score. Neuropal also includes quizzes about safety and a glossary where we can explore more about the nervous system.

The journey

nervous system

Biological electrical network that keeps our body interconnected and allows us to think, feel and act upon the world


animal trivia

We and the vast majority of mammals have a very low capacity to recover from spinal cord injuries, but for some animals it's a piece of cake

It's with them that scientists are trying to learn how to overcome our limitations and restore the crucial functions of the spinal cord after a lesion


our story

Neuropal came about within a research project about regeneration of spinal cord injuries, funded by La Caixa Foundation at Leonor Saúde Lab, in IMM.
The wish was to go beyond the research work and communicate with the public, especially with young audiences, about how to prevent these injuries.

Associação Viver a Ciência joined the project early on and together with Leonor´s team took on the exciting task of developing a game that could promote safe behaviours, while also teaching about the nervous system and its functions.

In 2020 Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP) joined the endeavour and a prototype was produced, with a team of students of the LGP class (Project Managing Lab) .

Development continued in 2021 with the programmer Luísa Freire, which started as a M.Sc. student at FEUP and continued to work her magic in her first graduate job. We were also lucky enough to count with the valuable expertise on game design from Universidade de Aveiro.

The graphic and sound development was possible thanks to funding from the Autoridade Nacional da Segurança Rodoviária (ANSR), which allowed us to pursue a partnership with FEUP's Sound Engineering and work with sound designer Valter Abreu, who created a beautiful and rich soundscape for Neuropal.
And last, but not least, we were able to count on the safe hands of FAVO studio that was responsible for all the visual identity and created a fantastic illustrated world for Neuropal.


team and contact


Joana Barros cienciavitae
/ project direction
Associação Viver a Ciência website

Leonor Saúde Lab website
Instituto de Medicina Molecular website

Luísa Freire
/ programmer linkedin

António Coelho cienciavitae
FEUP website

Pedro Cardoso cienciavitae
Universidade de Aveiro website

LGP < Simplify Team website

Rafael Maquiné linkedin
Pedro Ribeiro
/ additional programming

Sound Design

Valter Abreu website

Eduardo Magalhães

Visual Design

Pedro Dias instagram
Pedro Oliveira
Élio Mateus
Hugo Raposo
Gustavo Carreiro
FAVO Studio website

Website and Databases

Francisco Ribeiro Linkedin
Eduardo Almeida


Joana Barros
Carmen de Sena
Kingsley Walker



nervous system

Central Nervous System

The Central Nervous System (CNS) is composed of the brain and spinal cord and is located within the skull and the vertebral canal.

The CNS receives information from the senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste & touch) and sends messages to the muscles and glands.

nervous system


The brain is the nervous system command center. It is there where our memories are stored and where our perceptions of the world and ourselves reside.

Changes in any of its parts can have profound consequences (physical, mental, sensory and behavioral) in a person's life.

nervous system

Frontal Lobe

It's the Brain region controlling:

.  smell 
.  reasoning 
.  speech 
.  voluntary movements

When injured it can cause irritability, mood swings and inability to regulate behaviour and emotions.

nervous system

Parietal Lobe

Brain region that controls:

.  touch
.  taste
.  spatial orientation

When damaged can lead to numbness, disorientation, difficulty to draw objects and plan complex movements.

nervous system

Occipital Lobe

Brain region responsible for visual perception of:

.  colours
.  forms
.  motion 

Damage to these lobes may cause visual illusions, problems in reading, writing and color recognition.

nervous system

Temporal Lobe

It's the brain region controlling:

.  hearing
.  memory
.  emotions
.  facial recognition

When damaged, it can impair the understanding of spoken words and learning abilities.

nervous system


The Cerebellum, which means "little brain" in latin, is essencial for:

.  balance
.  posture
.  coordination of precise movements

When it is injured it can cause motor problems, such as the inability to reach and grab an object, do quick movements or even walk.

nervous system

Brain Stem

Area of ​​the brain that channels information to and from the spinal cord.
It's where vital functions are regulated such as:

.  breathing 
.  heart-beat
Due to these very important roles, damage to this part of the brain is very dangerous!

nervous system

Spinal Cord

Nervous tissue that runs along the vertebral spine, from the base of the brain to the lumbar region. 

It transports messages between the brain and the rest of the body. 

It controls the senses, muscles, heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, bowel and bladder function, among others.

nervous system

Cervical Segment

Spinal cord region that includes 8 segments, C1 to C8. 

C1-4 controls movement of the:
.  eyes
.  mouth
.  tongue
.  neck

C5-6 controls:  
.  shoulders
.  arms

C7-8 controls: 
.  elbows
.  hands

nervous system

Thoracic Segment

Region of the spinal cord that includes 12 segments, T1 to T12.

T1-T5 controls movement of the:
.  chest 
.  arms

T6-T12 controls the:
.  abdomen

nervous system

Lumbar Segment

Region of the spinal cord that includes 5 segments, L1 to L5. 

It controls the movement of the:
.  hips
.  legs
.  knees
.  ankles
.  feet

nervous system

Peripheral Nervous System

This part of the nervous system connects the Central Nervous System (CNS - Brain and Spinal Cord) with the rest of the body.

It sends information from the senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste & touch) to the CNS and from there to the organs.

nervous system


Are the main cells of the nervous system. They communicate with each other forming huge networks that run through the body.

There are billions of Neurons in our body and they may look very differently depending on their function.

nervous system


It's the structure that allows the passage of signals (electrical or chemical) from a neuron to another, or to cells that execute their orders (efectors),

The signal passes via neurotransmitters or by direct contact between cells, and can activate or inhibit nerve conduction.

nervous system


Site in an organ or tissue damaged as a consequence of a disease or physical injury.

In the case of the brain and spinal cord injuries never fully heal, affecting permanently their functioning.

nervous system


Capacity of a tissue to return to normal, in terms of function and/or structure, after injury.

Unlike us, there are animals, like the zebrafish, that are able to regenerate their Spinal Cord after an injury!

animal trivia


Zebrafish have a remarkable ability to regenerate their spinal cords, being able to swim again even after severe injuries.

Researchers don't yet understand in full how zebrafish (Danio renio) accomplishes such a feat, but they have already identified several key molecular and cellular processes shared between zebrafish and mammals.

They are looking at molecules involved in the inner capacity of neurons to regenerate themselves (neurogenesis) and also at the composition of the extracellular environment that surrounds the neurons and which is promoting regeneration in zebrafish, while in mammals it's inhibiting it. 

There is great hope that research in zebrafish may bring about knowledge that can help treat spinal cord injuries in ourselves.


animal trivia


Lampreys are jawless, eel-like fish, that existe since before the time of the dinosaurs. They are known as living fossils, since they have not changed much from 360 million years ago.

Lampreys make an excellent model organism for neuroscience research. Their transparent nervous systems and quite large neurons are ideal for imaging and recording and their regeneration abilities are quite stunning. 

The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) can recover, within 3 months, from a severed spinal cord and ends up swimming, burrowing and flipping as it did before the injury.

Many genes involved in its repair process have also been found active in mammals, where they are involved in peripheral nervous system reparations. 
These findings raise hope that those, or similar genes, can be regulated in humans in such a way that it could improve spinal cord injury treatments. 


animal trivia


Salamanders are cold-blooded vertebrates that spend part of their life cycle in water and part in land. They belong to the Amphibia class, a term derived from the Ancient Greek meaning 'both kinds of life'.

Salamanders are capable of amazing things such as regrowing a lost full length tail, in just a few weeks, with a completely functional spinal cord and nerves. 

One species in particular, the Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), goes even beyond and can also perfectly regenerate its limbs, skin, lungs, liver, heart, teeth and brain!

Research looking at this regenerative super power has uncovered important molecules involved in the process, related to cell adhesion, inflammation and the immune system. This research is providing important lessons about the fine tuning of our own response to spinal cord lesions.


animal trivia


Opossums are mammals that have the rare ability of being able to regenerate their spinal cords, but only for up to 9-12 days after they are born.

Opossums' (Monodelphis domestica) "interrupted" regeneration ability, gives researchers a unique possibility to study neurons that first can and then cannot regenerate after spinal cord injuries, and compare the two. 

This research has revealed that when regeneration stops, several genes are turned on while others are turned off. The question now is what role do the molecules encoded by the genes play, in promoting or inhibiting spinal cord regeneration.

This findings are very relevant because, although humans and opossums have split evolutionary 180 million years ago, we share many genes. What really changes between mammals is the way genes are regulated, not the genes themselves. So we kind of have the tools for the job.


animal trivia

Spiny Mouse

The common ancestor of humans and mice split just 80 million years ago, making us extremely similar, genetically speaking.

Among mice, the spiny mouse (Acomys) is stuff of legend. From the arid plains of the Middle-East, Asia and Africa, came tales of its remarkable regenerative abilities, known locally for generations. But it wasn't until 2012 that this extraordinary abilities were first experimentally documented. 

Since then researchers have confirmed Acomys can fully regenerate complex tissues such as skin, ear tissue, muscle and nervous tissues. They have also shown that it can recover from severe spinal cord injuries, re-establishing normal limb movement and coordination. 

How Acomys accomplish this is still unknown but researchers have already found up-regulated expression of genes promoting formation of new neurons (neurogenesis) and protective molecules that may be helping tissue regeneration.
This is an emerging area of research that holds much promise for the future of spinal cord injuries' treatment.