LSD Brainwave and Sound Art Hackathon

by Calum Armstrong

Since the 60s the prohibition of drugs has stifled scientists ability to research the potential benefits of mind altering drugs such as LSD. The stigma attached to researching the drugs makes it challenging to get grants and expensive to conduct the research as the drugs need to be made bespoke for the trials.

In 2014 Prof Nutt, Robin Carhart-Harris, the Beckley Foundation and CrowdScience (formerly Walacea) teamed up to raise funds for the world’s first multi-modal neuroimaging study of the brain on LSD. The study was published in the prestigious scientific journal PNAS last year and now the principle investigator of the study, Robin Carhart-Harris has linked up with AXNS, a curatorial collective interested in the intersection of arts and neuroscience, to explore new ways of looking at the data.

AXNS are organising a hackathon where sound artists will work alongside neuroscientists and data scientists to create mind-altering soundscapes based on extracted features from acquired brain wave data of that LSD study. Backers of their crowdfunding campaign hosted on CrowdScience can get concert tickets for the event to be held at a central London location. 

Robin explains “One of the challenges with our research is how we communicate to the general public how we think these drugs are working in the brain. How do we display our data in a way that is meaningful to people?

The output of our brain imaging work is often a static image and really that’s not conveying the reality of how psychoactive drugs are changing the brain as biological systems aren’t static, they are characteristically dynamic.

That’s the great thing about this project, it’s really looking at that possibility, taking this biological data, this activity in the brain under psychedelic drugs and presenting it to people in a dynamic sound format. It’s a really inspired idea and a real opportunity for people to be creative and to do something for the scientists”

If you would like to go to the concert after the hackathon when the sound art created from the data will be performed, be quick…there are only 35 tickets left…

Natalie Jonk is the Founder of CrowdScience

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