Encouraging new collaborations for expressive projects
Announcing the Class of 2013 Seed Projects:
Investigation of Creative Insight and Improvisational Expression by Noninvasive Brain Stimulation
The Exci-tDCS project seeks to expand scientific horizons on the neural basis of creative thought. The award of an ExCITe seed grant will allow us to expand our laboratory work on creativity and insight to one the most real-world expressions of human creativity: musical improvisation. We are interested in how creative improvisation can be affected - and even enhanced - by a new form of brain stimulation, called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). In tDCS, a safe and mild amount of electric current is applied to the scalp and travels into the cortex, changing the way neurons fire in that region. Instead of measuring brain activity while people do different tasks, tDCS lets us directly encourage or inhibit activity in different regions of the brain - and study how people's behavior changes as a result. This is an especially useful technique for studying very complex behavior where every run is unique, like musical improvisation.
In the first phase of our study we will use word problems that produce sudden, insightful solutions to test the effects of a new type of tDCS. This tDCS may hypothetically reduce self awareness and the "inner critic", freeing people to find creative solutions. In the second phase we will recruit Jazz pianists to receive the same tDCS while having a wealth of data about their performances recorded - from the strength with which they press each key, to the position of their bodies. This data will help us to peer deeper into the mystery of human creativity, and how it is produced by the brain.
Working with an interdisciplinary team, the composer and director Gene Coleman will develop “Systole,” an audio-visual composition based on the architecture of Toyo Ito’s Sendai Mediatheque. Utilizing the Excite Center's Magnetic Resonator Piano, this work brings together music composition, architecture, computer animation, cinema, and fractal geometry.
Biologically-inspired Sensing Platform for Proprioception in Flexible Robotic Membranes
The development of a fabric-based, strain sensing system with supporting computational architecture that will be used to prototype a proprioceptive robotic fish fin for research investigations, with broader implications in future technologies for textile-based sensing.