(converting neuronal activity into sounds)
The Well-Tempered Brain” took place on 13 August in Summerhall exhibition space in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here Sasha Kagansky, and Sergey Kostyrko, Mark Matthes, and Anton Koch decided collaborate with Paul Roach who has previously set up experiment with neurons grown on a microchip, and made open his Big Data set.
Together with a team of music artists the scientists could experience the energizing capacity of interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of neuroscience, computer science and art. Equipped with computers, EEG sensors, and synthesizers the event gave opportunity to explore what thinking sounds like. “A group of neurons can be imagined like a group of instruments within an orchestra”, explains molecular biologist Sasha Kagansky. While neurons interact and communicate with each other in the human brain, they create electric pulses. These pulses, stored in Big Data sets, can be used in various ways. While graphs are a common way to showcase brain activity, the active neurons’ data sets can also be turned into sound.
For this process of sonification, electric signals from cortical and striatal nerve cells grown on a micro chip are recorded in separate digital channels resulting from corresponding electrodes.
Using different software and hardware solutions, the digital-analog converter allows to pre-process the data in real-time (linearize, filter, extract slices, change the time-scale and etc.) and represent it in the form of electric current. After that, patch cables are used to redirect the flow of electricity from one module to another, to multiply signals and to group different modules together for creating performance-oriented system based on the oscillators, the amplifiers, the filters, the mixers, the multipliers, the ADSR generators and the ring modulators. Finally, this approach helps to organize the electric signals from nerve cells into complex sound structures and music compositions.
brain cells in action(photo by Matt Dunn,Dr.Rosemary Fricker,Paul Roach)