Thomas Deuel has experience dealing with the brain, being both a Jazz musician and a Neurologist a the Swedish Medial Centre in Seattle. He also has a lot of insight into how and when to use Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brains of his patients. After reading a paper on EEG’s being used to control wheelchairs, he began to wonder if the technique could be used for music too. Thus was born the Encephalophone.
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In the April edition of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Deuel detailed the process of translating electrical brain activity directly to musical scales, allowing performers to make music without even moving a hand.
Patients can control the Encephalophone by imagining their right hand gripping and releasing an object: a sensor cap worn by the performer detects the change in brain activity and alters the frequency of a continuous tone on a synthesizer.
Deuel says the sensation is initially “very bizarre”, but says abilities grow with practice. He’s already made plans for his patients to perform live alongside ensemble musicians at the University of Washington.
“The hope is the there will be accelerated recover of the motor cortex”
The Encephalophone may have benefits beyond just making music, benefiting those in need of physical therapy. There is also hope for stimulating the brains of stroke patients to regain lost motor control.
There’s more stories from 2017. Check out the Best of 2017 series here