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Could Techno Music be used to Treat Parkinson’s Disease?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

[Photo from McMaster University]

[Photo from McMaster University]

Here is a very interesting article from Thump on research being done at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. The school’s Large Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) Lab is conducting some groundbreaking research on live music and the way the human brain responds to it.

From the article:

McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, is finally going to answer some hard-hitting questions like: What do brainwaves look like when they’re waiting for a fat bass drop? Or, how would your killer Chromeo cover band sound if they played at Carnegie Hall?

The Large Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) Lab is a one of a kind studio that makes use of active acoustic control, EEG (electroencephalogram) caps, heart rate monitors, motion sensors, and various other tools in order to measure both the audience and the performers’ reactions to music. Since the applications of such an impressive array of equipment aren’t necessarily obvious by mere mention alone, Dr. Laurel Trainor, the Director of McMaster’s Institute for Music and the Mind, explained things.

LIVELab is able to incorporate the audience into the performance, and not in a bullshit “you, our dearest fans, are the fifth member of the band” way. They can actually make you part of the show by measuring your brainwaves in real time and then converting them into sound. Brainwaves occur as oscillations, similarly to how sound waves are visualized — making their transition to audio entirely possible. Once transformed into sound, brainwaves can then be played as backing music for the performers to improvise over, or directly influence the flow of the show. Then, while your brain rocks a synthesizer, you can even get your heart working a drum-machine, while your skin tries to figure out why your cracked version of Ableton keeps crashing, according to Dr. Trainor (though definitely not in her words).

“In addition to brainwaves, we can also measure heart rate and breathing rate, and what we call galvanic skin responses,” Dr. Trainor tells THUMP. “When someone gets more emotionally involved, they sweat a little bit more, and we can measure that on their finger. So, it’s basically just how much resistance there is if you pass a tiny electric current, from one point to another point on the finger, which tells us how emotionally involved they are.”

Read the rest of the article here

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