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Pauline Lerner

Banjo Player Plays His Instrument during Neurosurgery to Give Feedback to Surgeons

October 12, 2008 at 11:54 PM

Eddie Alcock, world famous banjo player, developed a severe tremor in his plucking hand, which ended his career and nearly destroyed him personally. A group of surgeons who believed that the problem was abnormal nerve function in a very specific part of the brain operated on him. They put electrodes in a small area of his brain and sent small currents of electricity there while he was awake – and playing his banjo -- in the operating room. He told the surgeons whether his banjo playing got better or worse when they moved the electrodes. They found his “sweet spot” and left the tiny electrodes there. Now he can turn those brain cells on or off with a small electrical unit on his chest. He can play banjo professionally again, and his quality of life has rebounded.

As a former neuroscientist and current violin teacher, this makes perfect sense to me, but it still fills me with awe.

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