Turning Brain Waves Into Beautiful Music

By converting functional MRI scans into musical notes of varying dynamics and frequencies, a new data visualization for our thoughts is born

Ever wondered what your brain sounds like on the inside? Trinity College philosophy professor Dan Lloyd has created a program that orchestrates our brainwaves. Scanning brains on an MRI, Lloyd can watch as certain areas of the brain light up and then assign different frequencies to the areas of the brain used, correlating the intensity of usage with volume. The results are bizarrely beautiful.

Subjects were asked to do a bunch of activities ranging from playing a driving video game, to just watching the scenery go by in the videogame, to being completely at rest. The portions of the brain that were active during those times were then translated into frequencies, pitches, and volume to create something resembling music.

The normal brain patterns were then contrasted with subjects with schizophrenia and dementia undergoing the same tests. These subjects produced "unsteady rhythms and cadences" in their brain music. The interesting aspect of this is that the irregular brain patterns that emerge in the music would not otherwise be seen visually on an MRI. These brain symphonies could help pinpoint areas of the brain associated with mental disorders that wouldn't otherwise show up on other scans.

The most amazing part of listening to this music is how easy it is to differentiate between a healthy resting mind, a healthy active mind, and a schizophrenic mind. It's also good to know our brains are creating such fine aleatoric melodies.

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