Schizophrenic Brains Make More Complicated Music Than Sane Ones

A new computer program lets your brain turn fMRI machines into musical instruments by assigning notes to active regions of your cortex. The results may cause people to drive themselves crazy just to stay on the cutting edge of electronica.

Philosopher Dan Lloyd uses functional MRIs — which track changes in brain activity by lighting up in different colors and intensities as the brain processes information — to create music, by assigning each area of the brain a note and each level of intensity a volume. A computer does the rest, analyzing the movements of the functional MRIs and creating musical pieces that correspond to the changes.

In the course of his work, Lloyd discovered that scans of patients with dementia and schizophrenia make audibly different music than those of people with normal brains: people with dementia have more erratic rhythms and less bright notes, while people with schizophrenia have more complex patterns in the music created by their brains.

Besides making their way onto the iPods of Lloyd's students, scientists think the application could allow them to better distinguish abnormalities in brain scans. According to New Scientist:

His colleague Didier Grandjean at the University of Geneva in Switzerland says that brain music might help identify temporal patterns in particular. "Melodies are a much better way to build complex mental representations over time than anything the eye can do," he says.

Of course, that's only if one takes the time to pay attention to the music that's being made, as opposed to how we think it ought to sound.

Eavesdropping On The Music Of The Brain [New Scientist]

Related: D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) [YouTube]

[Image via the Centre for Educational Neuroscience]