Monday, September 30, 2013

Seizure's Song: Stanford Collaborators Set EEGs to Music

Neurologist and neuroscientist Josef Parvizi wanted to hear what a seizing brain would sound like if it were made audible and musical. He recruited the help of fellow Stanford professor Chris Chafe, a composer, music researcher, and an expert at converting natural signals into music. A patient of Parvizi's donated an EEG recording of one of his seizures to the project. The result is not only a haunting piece of musification that seems to several epileptic commentators to capture the deep and eerie "feeling" of a seizure, but it also set in motion an effort to develop a device that would allow non-professionals to hear the onset of a seizure by broadcasting the sounds of converted EEG tracings in real time. They call the device a "brain stethoscope." Read a piece by Bjorn Carey about the project on the Stanford News website. And listen to the moving, musical seizure
Parvizi explains the audio: "The patient whose brainwaves you are hearing is sitting quietly in bed and is NOT having a convulsive seizure. Around 0:20, the patient's seizure starts in the right hemisphere, and the patient is talking and acting normally. Around 1:50, the left hemisphere starts seizing while the right is in a post-ictal state. The patient is mute and confused. At 2:20 both hemispheres are in the post-ictal state. Patient is looking around, still confused, trying to pick at things, and get out of bed."

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