Amazing Technology: Disabled Musicians Make Music With Their Brains

Technology is amazing. Sometimes I forget it does more than blogs, social media, and addicting video games.

In this case, it helps disabled musicians make music again, this time using brain-computer interfaces. I’ll let this video explain:

Technology is fascinating. I’m so glad we have it to help people regain (or gain) the musical parts of themselves.

This also shows me that the brain is even more fascinating than any piece of computer. And when you combine brain, technology, and music, you’ve got something special.

Why Sad Music Warms The Musician’s Heart

Finally, an explanation for why my full-length album is so depressing.

It’s because I subconsciously knew it would make me and everyone else feel better.

“It seems that expressing sadness makes a musician feel good.”

– Discover Magazine

Stavin' Chain playing guitar and singing the ballad "Batson," Lafayette, La. (via Library of Congress)
via Library of Congress

In a recent study, researchers found that “expressing sadness activated the reward center of the brain while playing happy music did not.”

Basically, playing sad music causes a certain area of our brain (the area that makes a musician feel immersed in the music) to release dopamine when happy music does not.

Now, both sad and happy music makes the musician feel good, but just different kinds of good. Sadder music can cause a deeper feeling of good.

RELATED: 3 Ways Music Can Help Your Brain Function Better

And think about it: when you’re feeling low, you want to be around other low people and listen to low music.

If you’re low and you’re around happy people, they’d end up being annoying and you’d feel even lower.

So here’s to all those sad songs and sad musicians out there — we need you.

Did We All Used To Have Synesthesia?

Imagine seeing colors fly out of someone’s mouth as they sing or speak. Imagine ribbons and double-helixes of silver and gold shoot from the end of a trumpet.

This is what color-hearing synesthesia is like, and you might have experienced this as a baby, according to the theory of two gentlemen.


Oliver Sacks writes in Musicophilia about Simon Baron-Cohen’s and John Harrison’s work that led them to write,

“We might all be colored-hearing synesthetes until we lose connections between these two areas [color and hearing areas of the brain] somewhere about three months of age.”

Musicophilia, page 181

Basically, Sacks goes on to write, the two senses mesh together, colors appearing with tones. But as we develop, the two separate, no longer creating a synesthetic experience, says their theory.

For those of you who don’t remember anything from infant age (like…all of us), you can watch the video below given to me by a young man with color-tone synesthesia.

He said this is the closest thing he’s found that illustrates what a synesthete sees, but he said he sees the colors more like ribbons and less like clouds.

Update, 8/26/15: click here to read about more evidence that we all grow out of our synesthesia as we develop, according to Discover Magazine.