Developing brain-computer music interfaces for meditation

by Krisztián Hofstädter (2022)


This practice research developed two prototype brain-computer music interfacing (BCMI) systems to support meditation practices. The second, more advanced system, BCMI-2, was tested to help induce and maintain a specific meditative state, the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC), first with two trainees in a non-clinical neurofeedback training (NFT) setting and then with my own brain signals in an artistic performance setting. In both settings, the system generated soundscapes with two entrainment methods to support the meditation: (1) auditory rhythmic entrainment (ARE) generating drumming gradually decreasing in tempo and rhythmic complexity and (2) a neurofeedback protocol rewarding increased theta brainwaves at Fz with a reward sound embedded as an integral element within the computer-generated drumming. In addition to these techniques, the performance setting also mapped hemispheric coherence measurements to surround sound spatialization to help increase my and the meditating audience’s feeling of immersion. The main contribution of this research is the creation of the BCMI-2 system and recommendations based on the knowledge gained while developing and testing its suitability to support meditation practices in NFT and artistic performance settings. BCMI-2 is fully open-source, affordable and uses the research-grade OpenBCI Cyton electroencephalograph to record multi-channel brain signals. The project contributes practical knowledge to the field. It could be of interest to NFT practitioners wishing to design immersive soundscapes for neurofeedback protocols, artists wishing to express themselves with physiological computing and meditation practitioners wishing to understand meditation from a scientific perspective.


altered state of consciousness, artistic performance, brain-computer music interfacing, auditory rhythmic entrainment, electroencephalography, computer-generated music, interactive soundscapes, meditation, neurofeedback training, shamanic journeying, surround sound

A thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Anglia Ruskin University, Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The thesis was submitted in 2021 to the Cambridge School of Creative Industries and accepted in 2022.

The original PDF accepted can be found at ResearchGate.