BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE ALLOWS MUSIC TO BE COMPOSED BY THOUGHT
Beethoven famously composed several of his masterpieces while he was essentially deaf – but surely even he would be impressed with this piece of research. A team at TU Graz in Vienna has created a brain- computer interface, or BCI, that allows musicians to compose using just the power of their thoughts.
Based on an established BCI that is used to enable severely disabled people to write, the system works by flashing up a series of options – notes, pauses, chords etc – onto a screen placed in front of the user. When the patients focus on their desired options, minute changes occur in their brain waves. These changes are picked up by a special cap fitted with electrodes, and relayed back into the software, which then pieces the user’s decisions together to form a musical score of their composition. The project could eventually give physically impaired people an opportunity to express themselves with music, the team says.
“The results of the BCI compositions can really be heard. And what is more important: the test persons enjoyed it. After a short training session, all of them could start composing and seeing their melodies on the score, and then play them. The very positive results of the study with bodily healthy test persons are the first step in a possible expansion of the BCI composition to patients,” said study leader Prof Gernot Müller-Putz.
A competitor uses a brain- computer interface at 2016’s Cybathlon Championship