Getting back to my senses

A couple days ago I came across an article in Wired News about Luciana Haill. I think she’s my new hero. Luciana records the activity of her frontal lobes by wearing a sweatband embedded with EEG monitors, which explore brain function by measuring voltage differences between different parts of the brain. This data gets fed to her computer via Bluetooth Interactive Brainwave Visual Analyser interfaces and, through a waving of the hand, is output as music.

Apparently Luciana became interested in the brain after a bout with Viral Meningitis, which eventually led to her interest in neurofeedback. Seriously, you can look at a graph of brain waves in a book or on a monitor, but listening to them this way is an entirely different experience.

I got a little uncomfortable when the talk started about how this technique is used in hypnotherapy and “invokes a real-time feedback loop between the conscious and subconscious” (this site), but I fully admit that I’ve only done a superficial reading on this stuff. Still, hearing your own brain activity – that’s cool! I think I’d even put up with a sweatband for that.

This got me thinking about how much I am affected by my sense of hearing. Would a bowl a Rice Krispies taste as good without the snap, crackle, and pop? Would I feel differently about my car if it made a different sound? I know I feel differently about the washing machine now that it’s started making a strange noise (and not working). The sound of the dishwasher always makes me better. It’s a sign of a clean(er) kitchen. Ever been comforted by the sound of you child or lover breathing?

We listen to so many things each day, but rarely seem to include any sound in science teaching other than the teacher’s voice and an occasional video. It might be worth bringing the sound of brain function into science ed – or the sound of space – or the sound of a hockey puck sliding across ice and the sound of a hockey puck sliding across wood. Hearing the difference in friction? That’d be cool. Way cooler than wearing a sweat band.

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