Recreation of Classic Pink Floyd Track Provides Deeper Understanding of Brain Activity

Researchers say they’ve made a breakthrough to assist those living with neurological disorders and diseases, all through a better understanding of how the brain works while listening to a classic rock song.

A study conducted by researchers from multiple institutions used data from 29 Albany Medical Center patients, each diagnosed with epilepsy. The patients passively listened to the song Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1, a 1979 track by Pink Floyd. Recordings of each patient’s brain activity allowed for researchers to recreate the song using the patient’s neural activity, with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how the brain takes in and then reconstructs information such as music.

The researchers included Gerwin Schalk, PhD, and Peter Brunner, PhD, of the Department of Neurology at Albany Medical College. The song itself was chosen due to its mixture of lyrics and instrumental interludes, as well as being pleasing to the participants of the study.

The study and its results have received global attention since being published. Researchers are hopeful their discoveries will serve as a building block for developing therapies for those with specific neurological diseases, and to better understand why certain information may be perceived differently due to those conditions.

Researchers are quick to point out that future research could extend the scope of the analysis of the brain, or even add additional behavioral dimensions that lead to a more complete understanding of just how the brain interprets information.

“Our findings show the feasibility of applying predictive modeling…paving the way for adding musical elements to brain-computer inference applications,” the study’s authors wrote.