[ISEA2011] Panel: John Matthias – The Sound of Small Brain Cir­cuits: Plas­tic­ity and Syn­chro­ni­sa­tion in the Neu­ro­gran­u­lar Sam­pler

Panel Statement

Panel: NeuroArts

The Neu­ro­gran­u­lar Sam­pler is a soft­ware mu­si­cal in­stru­ment de­signed by a col­lab­o­ra­tive team, which trig­gers grains of live sam­pled audio when any one of a net­work of ar­ti­fi­cial spik­ing neu­rons ‘fires’. The level of syn­chro­ni­sa­tion in dis­trib­uted sys­tems is often con­trolled by the strength of in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments. If the el­e­ments are neu­rons in small brain cir­cuits, the char­ac­ter­is­tic event is the ‘fir­ing time’ of a par­tic­u­lar neu­ron. The syn­chrony or de­cou­pling of these char­ac­ter­is­tic events is con­trolled by mod­i­fi­ca­tions in the strength of the con­nec­tions be­tween neu­rons under the in­flu­ence of spike tim­ing de­pen­dent plas­tic­ity, which adapts the strengths of neu­ronal con­nec­tions ac­cord­ing to the rel­a­tive fir­ing times of con­nected neu­rons. In this paper we will show how we can ‘neu­ro­engi­neer’ the col­lec­tive fir­ing be­hav­iour of small net­works of ar­ti­fi­cial neu­rons by ex­ploit­ing spike tim­ing de­pen­dent plas­tic­ity rules in a sonic con­text.

  • John Matthias is a mu­si­cian, com­poser and physi­cist. In 2008, he won the PRS Foun­da­tion New Music Award (the mu­si­cal equiv­a­lent of ‘The Turner Prize’) with Jane Grant and Nick Ryan for the de­vel­op­ment of a huge sonic in­stal­la­tion en­ti­tled The Frag­mented Or­ches­tra which also won an Ho­n­ourary Men­tion at the Prix Ars Elec­tron­ica 2009. He has re­leased three al­bums, Small­town, Shin­ing (2001) on the Ac­ci­den­tal label, Sto­ries from the Wa­ter­cooler (2008) on the Ninja Tune/ Counter label and Cor­ti­cal Songs (2008/2009) (with Nick Ryan), a work for string or­ches­tra and solo vi­o­lin on the Non­clas­si­cal record label, which was listed by Time Out (Chicago in the top-ten clas­si­cal al­bums of 2009. He has worked with many record­ing artists in­clud­ing Ra­dio­head and Cold­cut and has per­formed ex­ten­sively in­clud­ing at the Word­less Music Se­ries in New York, The Pom­pi­dou Cen­tre in Paris and at the Union Chapel in Lon­don. He is As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor in Sonic Arts and co-di­rec­tor of the art + sound re­search group at the Uni­ver­sity of Ply­mouth and is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing new in­stru­ments and com­po­si­tional processes re­lat­ing to sonic events and spik­ing neu­rons. These ini­tia­tives in­clude or­ches­tral com­po­si­tion, dis­trib­uted sys­tems and the de­vel­op­ment of a new Neu­ronal Music Tech­nol­ogy and will form the basis of many new works and artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Full text (PDF) p. 1660-1663