In order to create a melody, there are several “proven” means: you can play it on any musical instrument manually, perform a cappella or generate on a computer. But there is another way that scientists from the University of Washington offer. They created an encephalophone – a musical instrument, for which only the power of thought is required to play.
Naturally, the encephalophone was created not for fun, but for rehabilitation and treatment of patients with motor skills disabilities. For example, after a stroke, limb amputations, spinal cord injuries and so on. The idea of creating such a method of rehabilitation came to the neurologist Thomas Duel, after he learned that many patients before the incident played musical instruments and were very upset that they could no longer continue to pursue their favorite hobby.
Encephalophone reads signals from the brain using special electrodes built into the helmet. These signals are converted into notes that are reproduced using a synthesizer. On this, strictly speaking, the description of the principle of the action of a musical instrument ends. The device itself is capable of receiving 2 types of signals: from the visual cortex of the brain (the work of the instrument is controlled by the eyes), or from the region that is responsible for motor skills – in this case the device works on the basis of thoughts of movement by one or another limb
Thomas Duel together with his colleague Felix Darwas conducted a series of experiments involving 15 healthy adults. All of them could play melodies without problems. At the moment, scientists plan to improve the encephalophone and are preparing for more extensive trials on patients with impaired motor activity.