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The musical instrument you play with your mind

Encephalophone
Neurologist Thomas Deuel practices on the encephalophone in preparation for a gig. (Credit: 9e2)

How many musical instruments can you play without moving a muscle? There’s at least one: the encephalophone, which turns brain waves into tunes with a beat you can dance to.

Swedish Hospital neurologist Thomas Deuel will show how it’s done, with the accompaniment of a musical ensemble, on Oct. 22 at Seattle’s King Street Station as part of the 9e2 arts and technology festival. There’ll be an encore performance on Oct. 24.

Various types of encephalophones have been around for decades, but Deuel’s contraption (patent pending) has a clinical twist: He developed his version to help train the brains of patients who suffer from neurological diseases, strokes or spinal cord injuries.

“At first, I wanted to make a new musical instrument. I thought it’d be really fun and interesting from an artistic standpoint and music standpoint,” Deuel said at this week’s MIT Enterprise Forum on augmented humans. “But as I developed it, I learned a lot about the feedback aspect, and I started thinking, ‘Well, I have all these patients with disabilities … how can I use this for therapeutics?”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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