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Scientists Recreate Pink Floyd Song by Reading Brain Signals of Listeners

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An X-ray image.

A net of electrodes was implanted in the brains of epilepsy patients as part of their treatment, which created a rare opportunity for neuroscientists to record from their brains while they listened to music.

Credit: Peter Brunner

Scientists have trained a computer to analyze the brain activity of someone listening to music and, based only on those neuronal patterns, recreate the song.

The research, published last week, produced a recognizable, if muffled version of Pink Floyd's 1979 song, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)."

Before this, researchers had figured out how to use brain activity to reconstruct music with similar features to the song someone was listening to. Now, "you can actually listen to the brain and restore the music that person heard," said Gerwin Schalk, a neuroscientist who directs a research lab in Shanghai and collected data for this study.

The researchers also found a spot in the brain's temporal lobe that reacted when volunteers heard the 16th notes of the song's guitar groove. They proposed that this particular area might be involved in our perception of rhythm.

From The New York Times
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