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ENKI exploits several natural physical human responses to sound light and translates these into signals the fish can relate to. The human, under the effect of these stimuli returns information back to the computer and the fish through a system of ‘biofeedback'; either GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) or/and neurofeedback back via an IBVA [ ]. It also uses direct electrical connections to the fish.

In experiments the human participant wears a combination of headphones and ‘Light Frames’ (used to expose the eyes to controlled bursts of light) so immersing the human test subject for 15-30 min's in controlled light and sound. This has the effect of intense psychedelic experience. Later experiments use sound stimuli only.

Although the specific technology used is only a little different to the early electronic ‘mind machines’ of the 70s, the difference is that the fish is in control of any sound and light the human is exposed to. 'Mind machines' use sound ('binaural beats') and light, to induce deep states of relaxation, concentration or altered states of consciousness; mind states traditionally associated with meditation, and shamanic exploration. The process exploits what is known as ‘brainwave synchronization’ or ‘entrainment’. This uses the brains 'frequency following' response while listening to binaural frequencies. These are commonly believed to have psychological and physiological effects.

ENKI interface - Schematic diagram to show methods of interaction and communication between electric fish and humans. Central to this set up is capture of live electrical organ discharge 'EOD' from the electric fish; analysis and replay of simulated EOD signals to the fish. In this case two electric fish are isolated from each other. Controlled communication between them is made through electrical connection across the tanks. (Creating the Binaural EOD frequency) Using this method - we can plug into this connection creating an 'electrical image' between tanks using the human body for example.
Electrode placement for hypothetical treatment based on electro acupuncture treatments and enki technology.

In the earlier ENKI experiments reference was taken form the ancient art of acupuncture. Here we find a readily prepared body schematic apparently based on subtle energy flows through the body. For purposes of the experiment we assume that these so called energies are based on subtle and electrical fields that propagate through the body, or an ambient field of a bioelectrical nature. The human body can be considered not only as a material with electrical resistive qualities; but also with "capacitive" & "dielectric" properties.

Sensor electrodes placed at the wrist, allow the fish to interact with the human body as an 'electrical image'. This is the term we use when we talk about the way Electrogenic fish 'see' the world and objects.

The active electrical nature of the human body can be defined as nervous muscular activity, and discrete piezoelectric propertiesPyroelectric Effect in Bone and Tendon. Nature 212, 704 - 705 (12 November 1966)

Binaural Beats and Brain Waves
The Black-ghost Knife-fish generate 410 - 440Hz EOD frequency, in the Millivolt range. When interacting with the ENKI system or each other they naturally begin to modulate these frequencies communicating with small modulations called ‘chirps’. They create a binaural frequency of 4-20Hz. Theoretically by listening to this binaural tone, our brain could sync with the frequency modulations of the fish.

Brain Waves Hz
Beta Waves 14-100 Hz: Awake state, eyes open, alert focusing.
Alpha Waves 8 to 13 Hz: Closed eyes, relaxed, passive, or unfocused.
Theta Waves. 4 to 8 Hz: Calm and deeply relaxed and dreaming.
Delta Waves 0.5 - 3.5Hz: Deep sleep.

Central to the ENKI system is capture of live electrical signals from the fish, analysis and replay of simulated signals back to the fish. Controlled communication between the fish is made through the ENKI system via electrical connections across the tanks, this creates an 'electrical image' using the biophysical properties of the human body. The investigation looks at how this affects the behavior of the fish and if it is possible to create a biofeedback loop based on intercommunication brain states and biophysical states, between species.

Jamming Avoidance Response and interaction

Measurement & observation

To measure the effect this process has on the human test subject an EEG monitor or neuro-graphic interface [the IBVA] is used. In theory through analyzing the frequencies generated by the fish we should see a synchronous relationship in the brain-wave data. This however is notoriously difficult to intemperate. As well as the graphics data obtained, the behavior and particular chirping activity of the fish must be taken into account. In later experiment we used a GSR sensor as a means to detect the emotional response the stimulus.

MUIO - MAX MSP, early sensor interface

the muio... (Above) This is the muio interface

LDRs ...
(Above) Connected with LDR's as light sensors used to monitor fish movement in tank.

LAB at GIf...
(Above) The Lab at CNRS...

(Above) muio interface board and fish.

The ENKI interface is an experiment which aims to discover;
a) Is possible to achieve a "brain-wave entrainment" through electronic interaction with an electrogenic fish?

b) Is possible that these fish are able to recognize the human body as an "electrical image"? If so to what extent or detail can the fish recognize and remember these 'electric images'.

c) Is it possible that the fish, with such a sensitive electro-sensory system, be aware of a human presence? or even sense these subtle electrical fields we generate? What, if anything, can these fish tell us about our selves?

d) What role can electric fish play today in the development and application of electro-accupunture, EEG, and other electro-theraputic technologies?

Links and further reading

The IBVA consists of a sensor band recording 2 channels of brainwaves (EEG) with medical electrodes and a tiny blue tooth transmitter. IBVA's software does more than analyse, (upto 1920 samples per second) continuously - it visualises the delicate EEG from 0-280 Hertz per channel. In realtime you learn to intuitively affect your EEG (neurofeedback)

GSR or galvanic skin response is a measurement of skin conductivity from the fingers and / or palms.

Binaural beats or binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, the perception of which arises in the brain independent of physical stimuli.

FFR or Frequency following response is the basis of brain wave entrainment, a naturally occurring phenomenon where the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant EEG frequency towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus.

The muio interface is a modular system for sensing and controlling the Real World, from programmes such as Pure Data, MAX/MSP, SuperCollider, Processing or something you have written yourself.