The ensemble is using portable EEG to map their brain waves while playing

JACK Quartet

JACK Quartet (clockwise from left): Austin Wulliman, John Pickford Richards, Christopher Otto and Jay Campbell

The JACK Quartet has received a Creative Fellowship from the University of Washington for its latest research project focusing on the link between neurology and music-making. The New York-based ensemble is using portable EEG and wearable muscle neuron sensors to map their brain waves while playing.

Their aim is help develop technology that allows those who have lost the ability to make music with one part of the brain to train themselves to make music using other parts and processes of their brain.

The technology in question is the encephalophone, an instrument you can play simply by thinking, and which builds on brain-computer interfaces, developed since the ’70’s,  that allow people to move screen cursors or robot arms with brain signals alone. It could be used as a therapeutic tool for people who have suffered from strokes or neurological problems, and can’t use their limbs to make music anymore. 

During this extended residency, the JACK is collaborating with composers Juan Pampin and Richard Karpen, along with several neuroscientists and a team of research staff from DXARTS, a University of Washington program that incubates collaborations between scientists and artists.