Monday, October 20, 2008

Banjo Played During Brain Surgery

This amazing procedure was performed on the amazing bluegrass 5-string banjo player Eddie Adcock, restoring his ability to play his instrument, which had been taken away by a tremor in his hand.

He remained conscious during the procedure and played his banjo to aid in the placement of a deep brain stimulation device. Watch:

The device works by sending electrical impulses into the thalamus at a certain frequency to correct abberations in that part of the nervous system, called the motor loop, which controls movement. (For a brief run down of the motor loop and the procedure read this fine article at Mind Hacks.)

The doctors need to experiment and refine both the placement of the device and the frequency of the stimulus to achieve the desired effect. Hence the sweet banjo pickin' above. This is a pretty great video of the good old days: