[sdiy] brainwaves to CV :O)

Jason Proctor jason at redfish.net
Fri Sep 10 00:56:40 CEST 2010


i think a decent analogy comes from the way we see. our eyes aren't 
anywhere near as good as they appear to be. the brain fills in the 
details from what we (think we) know. through a process of endless 
feedback, we can fine-tune our experience over time to improve it. 
and i think if a decent brain-synth interface were made, people would 
devote time to using it (playing it, if you like) and training their 
brain to produce predictable and unique results. like any other 
instrument...

(never mind brain to synth, i just want mouth to sequencer!)

i was just thinking this morning about a quote from someone whose 
name i've forgotten -- "i'm talking about the part of your brain that 
can do differential calculus so fast that you can catch a flying 
ball." in order to make a machine do this right first time, you'd 
indeed have to do some calculus. but i don't think that's how the 
brain's doing it. it's feedback again. does this look right? no, move 
it that way a bit. now? no, the other way. after a long time of 
catching balls, you just get better at guessing.

disclaimer: i don't actually know anything about this stuff, but it's 
fun to think about

(i'm not a cognitive science major either, but i sometimes claim to 
be one at work just to win coding style arguments.)


>Amen & thank you Scott :).
>
>That's a well-argued point of view. However, there's one part I 
>disagree on. The brain is quite different from the body itself, when 
>it comes to evolution. The brain has shown to be extremely plastic, 
>within a human lifetime. So we don't need thousands of years of 
>evolution to make it change. An example: in case of a malfunctioning 
>inner ear, cochlear implants are frequently put in place, 
>stimulating the auditory nerve in a very different way that a 
>natural cochlea would have done. However, the brain is able to adapt 
>itself to a certain degree to this new input. In the same way you 
>can see remapping of brain-area's in case of blindness or deafness. 
>The 'unused' brain area's start to be remapped to more useful 
>functions.
>
>And arguing from a different point of view: it's not thanks to many 
>years of evolution that I can play my home built synth. My 
>genetically similar family members can't play it at all!
>
>So, given that scalp recordings (EEG) are a very crude way to 
>capture what's really going on in the brain, I still think that once 
>there is a direct connection to a musical instrument the brain could 
>learn to use it.
>
>Rutger
>
>On 9 sep 2010, at 23:47, Scott Gravenhorst wrote:
>
>>  The animal brain did not evolve in an evironment in which the 
>>animal benefits from
>>  signals that leave the brain for any reason.  Nor were there nor 
>>are there any challenges
>>  provided by nature which encourage or ellicit such benefits. 
>>However, animals did and do
>>  benefit from the physical electrochemical connections to sensory 
>>organs and muscles. 
>>
>>  Human beings which are also animals have evolved in the same or 
>>similar way such that we
>>  developed efficient connections from the brain to sensory organs 
>>and muscles.  The use of
>>  the sensory organs and muscles provided advantages for (at least) 
>>feeding and breeding,
>>  thus we prospered. 
>>
>>  The fact that some electrical signals can be detected by sensitive 
>>electrical equipment
>>  is, in my opinion, merely a side effect, a curiousity.  The human 
>>brain certainly seems
>>  capable of some amount of multitasking, such as walking while 
>>talking or playing a
>>  musical instrument in which the limbs (and other parts) are doing 
>>something perhaps
>>  related, but different. 
>>
>>  The connections for muscle control come from specific parts of the 
>>brain that evolved to
>>  handle those specific functions effectively.  It may be more like 
>>multiprocessing than
>>  multitasking.  Because of the lack of encouragement/reward from 
>>evolution for external
>>  signal use (what in nature responds to such signals?) and because 
>>evolution did produce
>>  advanced connections for limbs and sense, I would have to agree 
>>with Barry that the idea
>  > of a mentally conducted piano concert will never be as good as 
>one done with hands and
>>  other parts, mainly because we have real evolutionary advantages 
>>in using our hands to
>>  manipulate our physical world and we have no such advantages 
>>produced because of
>>  electrical activity that eminates from the skull. 
>>
>>  I think that the technology to even approach something like 
>>playing a fugue from mental
>>  electrical activity sensed by a machine are a very long way off. 
>>Consider also that the
>>  brain is a three dimensional object and connecting to it's 
>>exterior surface would at best
>>  give only a blurred and distorted summing view of the multitude of 
>>individual signals
>>  generated within.  Separation of specific signals seems required 
>>for such a task and at
>>  present, the technology to do so doesn't exist.  (yes, I saw that 
>>"House" episode and I
>>  thought the same way Barry did: No - it doesn't work like that)
>>
>>  I would not discourage experimentation in this regard, but I 
>>personally hold out little
>>  hope for real success.
>>
>>  -- ScottG
>>
>>  ________________________________________________________________________
>>  -- Scott Gravenhorst
>>  -- FPGA MIDI Synthesizer Information: home1.gte.net/res0658s/FPGA_synth/
>>  -- FatMan: home1.gte.net/res0658s/fatman/
>>  -- NonFatMan: home1.gte.net/res0658s/electronics/
>>  -- When the going gets tough, the tough use the command line.
>>
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