Rosemary Johnson was a budding violinist, a member of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra. She was expected to great things. She had a road accident 27 years ago and in the fatal car crash she lost her ability to move and speak. She was in coma for months and suffers from severe brain damage.
It was last in 1988 she had composed any music. Today she is able to compose music with the help of mind reading software. The software reads and interprets waves of the brain.
“It was really very moving,” Eduardo Miranda from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University in the UK, told The Telegraph.
“The first time we tried with Rosemary we were in tears. We could feel the joy coming from her at being able to make music. It was perfect because she can read music very well and make a very informed choice.”
The software has been developed as part of a 10-year program led by Plymouth University, and works by hooking a patient up to an EEG cap, which reads electrical information from their brain. This allows a patient to select musical notes and phrases with their mind, simply by focusing on different colored lights on a computer screen.
“The great achievement of this project is that it is possible to perform music without being able to actually move. She is essentially controlling another musician to play it for her,” said Miranda. “It’s not yet possible to read thoughts but we can train people to use brain signals to control things.”
Miss Johnson’s mother Mary, 80, of Hounslow, west London, said the project had inspired her daughter. “Music is really her only motivation,” she said. “I take her to the grand piano in the hospital and she can only really play a few chords, but that was the only time she shows any interest. She doesn’t really enjoy anything else.
“But this has been so good for her. I can tell she has really enjoyed it.”