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My Virtual Dream

July 9, 2015

A neuroscientist crowd-sources brainwave data at musical events for her research.



Kelly Connolly Baycrest Health Sciences

A study participant manipulates his mental states of relaxation and concentration as part of a collective neurofeedback experiment conducted at an arts festival in Toronto. (Kelly Connolly/Baycrest Health Sciences)

Watch the “My Virtual Dream” video

Neuro-crowd-performance. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[music from My Virtual Dream]

Inside a giant dome pulsing with music and projected video, people wearing high-tech headbands divide their attention between computer screens in front of them and the swirling imagery above. It’s an event called My Virtual Dream, and the audience is not only enjoying the show—they’re creating it with their brainwaves. Computational neuroscientist Natasha Kovacevic at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto created the show to gather brainwave data from hundreds of people.

NATASHA KOVACEVIC (Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada):

What we want to learn about the human brain is how it operates in these collective experiences: how it reacts to music, to art, but in a very realistic scenario.


In the journal PLoS ONE, Kovacevic and her colleagues describe how these group experiments can reveal effects not seen in traditional lab studies. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.