"Brain Stethoscope" Turns Brain Waves Into Music

Medical device can detect brain wave changes and help patients with epilepsy

By Marianne Favro
|  Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013  |  Updated 7:43 PM PDT
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Medical device can detect brain wave changes and help patients with epilepsy. Marianne Favro reports.

Medical device can detect brain wave changes and help patients with epilepsy. Marianne Favro reports.

Stanford University music professor Chris Chafe found a way to turn brain waves into music.

The work is helping people with epilepsy.

For three years Chafe and Stanford Medical Center Neurologist Dr. Josef Parvizi have worked together to develop a "brain stethoscope" that can detect brain wave changes by turning them into music.

"It's a profound difference you can detect by ear," Chafe said.

The pair used the device to help epilepsy patient Keyna Solis. The brain stethoscope revealed a noticeable change in her "brain music" -- a signal to doctors that she is having a seizure.

"Seizures can be stopped so if we know a patient is having active seizure with no convulsions, then we can go in and give them medication to abort it," Parvizi said.

The brain stethoscope also detected a change of sounds when Meredith Eidem started having a seizure.

"It is essentially faster than analyzing a graph, and what we're hearing is what's happening in real time," Chafe said.

The brain stethoscope is still under development, but Parvizi said it may one day be used in emergency rooms, intensive care units and by parents and other caregivers, especially when patients are unable to talk.

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