Music, it seems, can be made from just about anything. Even bats. No surprise then that the electrical activity of the brain can be translated into tunes as well, something a pair of Standford professors have accomplished. However, instead of normal activity, they’ve captured the “sound” of a seizure.
Neurologist Josef Parvizi and music researcher Chris Chafe, both of whom work at Stanford University, teamed up to produce this surreal and at times, disturbing, piece of music. Parvizi provided Chafe with electroencephalogram of a seizure patient, which was then transformed into audio using tones resembling that of a voice. The final product is a “choir” that sings the seizure.
You can hear the result in the clip above. While it may sound disjointed, there’s actually quite a lot happening, as explained in the university’s newsletter, the Standford Report:
In the moments leading up to the seizure event, though, each of the singers begins to improvise. The notes become progressively louder and more scattered, as the full seizure event occurs (the ictal state). The way Chafe has orchestrated his singers, one can hear the electrical storm originate on one side of the brain and eventually cross over into the other hemisphere, creating a sort of sing-off between the two sides of the brain.
After about 30 seconds of full-on chaos, the singers begin to calm, trailing off into their post-ictal rhythm. Occasionally, one or two will pipe up erratically, but on the whole, the choir sounds extremely fatigued.
Parvizi hopes their work can be adapted to create an early warning system of sorts for carers of seizure patients, though he admits they’re still trying to figure out how the technique can be best utilised.