Brain Music

Paralyzed patients composed a beautiful symphony using only their brains

By directly tapping into the neurons firing away in our brains, so-called brain-computer interfaces allow us to imagine a future in which we can, essentially, read each other’s minds. While we’re not quite there, the use of EEG technology has allowed patients without the ability to move or speak to communicate in other ways, like through music.

Recently, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University in the UK worked with four severely motor-impaired people to compose music in real-time using only their brains. As EEG technology measured activity in the visual cortex of the brain, they chose between four different musical phrases displayed on a screen as flashing lights. Their choice was then sent to musicians manning actual instruments who played them.

But it’s not just about art—eventually the same breakthroughs, scientists hope, could lead to new ways for motor-impaired patients to express themselves without ability to speak or move.

The Paramusical Ensemble performed their composition, “Activating Memory,” at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London. It’s as fascinating as it is moving. Check it out below.


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