Innovations That Matter

Brain-reading system makes music learning dynamic


BACh system developed at Tufts University measures brain activity to dynamically increase levels of difficulty for a piano student.

We’ve seen how NASA has developed neuro-feedback glasses that help users stay focused, and now a team from Tufts University is monitoring brainwaves to facilitate new skill learning.


The system, called BACh or Brain Automated Chorales, is developed by PhD student Beste Yuksel. First, it presents novice piano players with short learning tasks for the instrument. Then, by measuring the level of oxygen processing in an area of the brain involved in problem solving, the BACh system can alter the difficulty level dynamically, in response to how well the user is coping with the current piece. If there is low brain activity, the user is cruising and the difficulty level is stepped up. An algorithm is used to calculate the player’s coping levels. The system shows that students completed tasks better using BACh compared to their normal lessons.

Research suggests a student’s response to increased task difficulty is a strongly individual experience. Could schools use brainwave-reading tech to move towards an individualized teaching system?



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