The world’s next great musical work of art may come from someone who can’t strum a guitar, let alone move altogether, thanks to composer Eduardo Miranda from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) at the University of Plymouth. An instrument he invented allows paralyzed people to play music using only their thoughts.
The device consists of a specially developed EEG system. Users are trained to focus on a repeated stimulus, pushing a button, for example, which allows the system and the user to associate particular brain signals with specific tasks. The device detects the unique pattern in the EEG associated with the particular stimulus, and can trigger a musical note or melody when the pattern is detected. The user can even change the intensity, like pushing the button harder, by varying the intensity of attention.
So far, Miranda and his team have only been able to successfully develop a four button system, but it is certainly enough to create music and could prove to be therapeutic for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries.
Check out the video of the system at work, set to the soundtrack of Beethoven who also made beautiful music with a severe impairment:
Article in Nature: Music is all in the mind…
Abstract in Music and Medicine: Brain-Computer Music Interfacing (BCMI): From Basic Research to the Real World of Special Needs