In relation to music, I’m ashamed to say I’m a little bit of a philistine.
Solely within the indifference sense, not hostility. Don’t get me improper, I like music, and might definitely fall into the lure of taking part in a brand new music time and again.
However I also can go for days with out listening to music and don’t miss it.
With that in thoughts, I used to be intrigued when invited to hitch the Brainstorms Mission, a collaboration between Pollen Audio Group and Dolby to file the mind exercise of 100 volunteers whereas listening to Pink Floyd’s The Nice Gig In The Sky.
Full disclosure: I’d by no means heard it earlier than. That’s the extent of musical ignorance we’re speaking.
However, I used to be excited to go to Dolby’s Soho HQ and discover out what precisely was occurring in my mind. Hopefully one thing.
Coming into considered one of Dolby’s subterranean studios, I meet neuroscientist Erica Warp, charged with recording the billions of brainwaves from all 100 volunteers.
Regardless of the mammoth process she is extremely cheery, operating by means of what would occur whereas becoming the headset designed to peek inside my cranium. It had a touch of Meccano about it, a spidery internet of black.
After dabbing the electrodes with saline – for conductivity, not post-Covid hygiene – Erica rolls the headset in place (I wasn’t anticipating a free head therapeutic massage too).
As I get used to the sensation, she reels off directions: face the audio system, attempt to clear your thoughts, and if I’ve a ‘chill occasion’ – a shiver or comparable response – to press a button she palms me.
‘Most individuals turn out to be extra careworn when listening to the directions than the music,’ she jokes.
Kitted out, I swivel round to face a row of audio system, every with a spherical silver diaphragm, staring again at me like just a little row of Minions.
I’m unsure what to anticipate as the primary notes blast out, however it definitely isn’t this. The opening piano chords and guitar riffs, overlaid with a chap chatting away (who I later be taught is Gerry O’Driscoll, a janitor at Abbey Street Studios), are very mellow.
What follows isn’t, and, I’ll be trustworthy, is a tad complicated.
Whereas the famously ‘orgasmic’ screams of Clare Torry are spectacular of their vary and an surprising component, I discover myself merely ready for the true lyrics to start out. Which in fact they by no means do.
After all, there isn’t any doubting the standard of the sound pulsing by means of the audio system, however that too is unfortunately misplaced on me – I’ll fairly fortunately blast tinny music out my cellphone at house, a lot to others’ disgust.
After nearly 5 minutes, the music is over, and so too is my mind scanning time.
Clearly I can’t resist a ‘so do I’ve a mind’ joke, which Erica graciously smiles at, having little question heard it one other 99 instances over the week.
However I do have a mind. And it doesn’t care about Pink Floyd.
4 measures of brian exercise have been taken – curiosity, rest, stress and pleasure.
Peaks of curiosity confirmed the place members have been drawn to the music, rest measured the power to calm the thoughts. Stress, properly, you realize, and pleasure measured psychological arousal and application.
Total, my curiosity within the music was 4.7 factors decrease than the group common, though unusually my pleasure was two factors larger.
In one other contradiction, my rest was 18.5 factors decrease than common, however conversely my stress was additionally decrease than common, by 13.7 factors.
And whereas I skilled no ‘chill’ occasions, my stress usually spiked when others had them. Maybe Pink Floyd simply isn’t for me?
Let’s not be too hasty.
Psychology professor Joydeep Bhattacharya, from Goldsmiths College warns in opposition to making sweeping judgements, particularly with none baseline ranges to match them too.
If I needed to hazard a guess, I’d say I’m fairly careworn and never very relaxed a number of the time.
As well as, the outcomes have been influenced by many elements lengthy earlier than I stepped within the studio, merely from me being me. For example, low curiosity doesn’t essentially imply I don’t just like the music, it might recommend a extra contemplative engagement.
I’m not so positive on that, I don’t recall a lot contemplation, aside from questioning when the lyrics have been going to start out.
However most significantly, EEG alerts are a large and complicated set of alerts, coming from completely different areas of the mind, however these weren’t outlined within the outcomes.
Professor Bhattacharya says: ‘Whereas the outcomes present how Katherine might need felt – like stress or pleasure – throughout listening, it’s essential to keep in mind that everybody’s response to music is completely different and even the identical particular person responds to music in another way, relying on context.
‘In brief, whereas this experiment offers us a cool glimpse into how music can have an effect on our brains, there’s much more to discover about how every of us uniquely experiences music.’
It’s cool, even when not essentially the most scientific of experiments, and it will get much more so when the ultimate stage is revealed.
The workforce has taken my brainwaves and remodeled these ideas and emotions right into a mesmerising cloudscape.
‘The visualisation, in-built Unreal, a 2D fly-through of the cloud system – however the behaviour of the clouds and the way they appear is being managed by the mind knowledge,’ says Richard Warp, Pollen’s inventive director.
‘Flashes are curiosity spikes, foggy diffuse impact is rest. The density of the clouds, what number of there are, is being managed by pleasure.’
It’s a hypnotic mixture, straightforward to get misplaced in. Admittedly there are a couple of lulls, maybe unsurprising given my obvious middling emotions for the poor Clare’s genre-bending vocals.
Nonetheless, I can’t assist however marvel how my mind would react this time, listening and watching concurrently.
And had I recognized earlier than that The Nice Gig In The Sky was about demise, that too could have modified my expertise.
Alas, I’ll by no means know, however the challenge did remind me of the easy joys of switching off and immersing your self in music.
Even with an internet of Meccano in your head.
Get your need-to-know
newest information, feel-good tales, evaluation and extra
This website is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privateness Coverage and Phrases of Service apply.