The House: Using research to unlock mysteries of the mind

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

Cutting-edge research in topics including the interface between music, computers, and the brain within a vibrant contemporary music community.

Access our well-equipped studios, open plan lab and annual research seminar series.

Find out more about the centre and what we do

Can music be the tool that unlocks the most devastating of neurological conditions? That is one of the key questions being posed by Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR), now based in The House.

Led by Professor Eduardo Miranda, the research cluster includes academics and PhD students working to identify a range of innovative techniques which analyse the brain’s response to music and movement.

That work, and the scientific understanding it has generated, has informed a number of cutting edge performances, in which sensory equipment has allowed audiences to take control over elements of what they are watching.

But it is also generating improved public understanding of conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Locked-In Syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and seeking to give people with those conditions greater control of their lives.

Professor Miranda says:

“Music is something that everyone can relate to, and our work has led to many performances in which the audience are directly involved in what happens. But our work has also shown that music can have amazing and positive impacts on those with the most serious of neurological conditions. Working together with people who have locked-in syndrome and Alzheimer’s has shown that our technology can enhance their lives in ways they, and their families, might never have thought possible.”

Among the pioneering projects currently being undertaken by the ICCMR is a brain computer music interface (BCMI), through which a user wears a head cap to link a computer screen with their visual cortex, enabling them to control musical performances using just their vision.

Exciting exploratory work is also underway into biocomputers, using organic material as part of an electrical circuit which can influence and respond to musical scores.

Research is also continuing into audience perceptions of music and movement, and the ways these can be adapted to influence existing and future compositions.

Much of the ICCMR’s work will be on show during the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, partly being staged in The House in February 2015.