Former Grateful Dead Drummer's Brain Activity Recorded While He Plays

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Gazzaley agreed that people should not blow his AARP presentation out of proportion. "That was as much an artistic expression as anything else," he said. But the core concepts are there, he said, and he planned to expand on them. "We're working with nVidia to improve real time EEG and use it as a research tool."

While Gazzaley is looking on how to rescue an aging brain from memory loss and inattentiveness, Ron Petersen, the director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Research Center, sees rhythm and music as a tool for patients when reversing the brain's wear and tear isn't possible.

"If you show 20-, 30- even 40-year old photographs to people with Alzheimer's disease, they can have a fluent conversation about those memories," he said. "Music could be employed in the same fashion and put their minds at ease."

In addition, he said that the mechanisms behind tapping old memories and creating new ones were inherently different, though exactly how is still a subject for research.

"The cap might shed some light on what regions are brought into play," said Petersen. "Different areas will light up in Mickey if he's done a song a million times, or if he's just jamming."

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