Scientists have developed an experimental musical instrument that creates sound using a person’s brain waves.
In 2016, Swedish neurologist Thomas Deuel teamed up with physicist Felix Darvas to develop an encephalophone, a musical instrument you can play by thinking.
The instrument was first invented in the 1940s by Dr E A Bevers, a physiologist who found a way to use brain waves to generate sound.
Deuel and Darvas had two motivations behind the creation of their encephalophone, The Seattle Times reports. Not only did they want to explore new technologies in music, they believed it could also serve as a therapeutic tool for people who had suffered from strokes or other neurological problems.
Deuel said its advantage is that it is ‘totally non-invasive: no surgery, and it’s portable’.
The instrument requires the musician to wear a special cap fitted with electrodes that can read brain waves, and then transmits them to a synthesiser.
‘The encephalophone is a musical instrument that you control with your thoughts, without movement,’ Deuel told Sci News in 2017.
‘I’m a musician and neurologist, and I’ve seen many patients who played music prior to their stroke or other motor impairment, who can no longer play an instrument or sing,’ he said.
‘I thought it would be great to use a brain-computer instrument to enable patients to play music again without requiring movement,’ he added.
In a 2017 study, The Encephalophone: A Novel Musical Biofeedback Device Using Conscious Control of Electroencephalogram, which was published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, scientists trialled the instrument on 15 adults.
The results showed that every member of the group was able to use the encephalophone to correctly recreate musical notes without any prior musical training.