Grateful Dead Drummer Bangs Drums for Brain Research
(SAN FRANCISCO) -- When ex-Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart performs live concerts nowadays, audiences can watch light shows powered by his mind. Hart wears a cap fitted with electrodes that allows his brain activity to automatically direct the movements of a light show. Hart tells KGO-TV in San Francisco it all began after he started thinking about the rhythm in the brain when his grandmother was struggling with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Hart says she hadn’t spoken in over a year but when he played a drum for her, she spoke his name.
Hart is now participating in an experiment at his shows to examine the possible therapeutic benefits of rhythm. Hart, who turns 70 on Sept. 11, wears an EEG cap that detects rhythmic activity being generated by the neurons in his brain.
Hart and live audiences watch his brainwaves on a display while he drums and he tries to control the rhythm of his brain by changing the tempo of the music.
Hart says, “I move into its time, and try to do what it’s doing and go with it...” Hart calls the experience a dance.
Hart is working on the project with University of California, San Francisco neuroscience professor Adam Gazzaley.
Gazzaley believes the research might one day help patients whose brains have lost their natural rhythm regain some cognitive ability.
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