Dance Based Rigidly Around Integrated Neural Networks

A model of the neural systems that generate movement, recognize error, and adjust accordingly. The system has two components:


Phillip Wozny explaining DBRAINN at FronteraFest 2014.  Photo Courtesy of Abe Martinez.


Our piece begins with Perception/Instruction, an input that can be any motion wrapped in an emotional context/environment (a soundtrack). This input is received by a set of Motor Controllers (listed below), semi-autonomous brain regions with a unique sensitivity to certain types of information and a unique instruction, or motor plan, to reckon with the input.

There are multiple motor controllers improvising choreography and mood. Their instructions are filtered through the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC), a switchboard that selects which motor controller’s instructions are most appropriate for the task at hand by mixing the volumes of simultaneous Motor Controller instruction feeds.


Those instructions permitted by the gates of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex are heard by two types of dancers, real and expected. Real dancers (R) represent how the body actually moves in a given moment. Expected dancers (E) represent the brain’s mental representation of a movement’s outcome based on previous experience. A movement is deemed successful when the real and expected dancers align.

Although these dancers are blind to one another, the Basal Ganglia (BG), acting as a critic, watches them and indicates the degree of successful alignment between real and expected using musical cues. If a sustained alignment is achieved, the Hippocampus (H), represented in this piece by a loop pedal, will record the Motor Controllers’ instructions that yielded that alignment in a memory. When the conditions that initially brought about the memory return periodically throughout the performance, recalled movements resurface in sequence.


Diagram showing the pathways that information is shared between different Motor Controllers, Dancers (E & R), and Input, named below.

Motor Controllers

  • Samuel Allen – Amygdala (A)
  • Jack Frazee – Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC)
  • Erika Sells – Parietal Lobe (PL)
  • Riley Webb – Insular Cortex (IC)
  • Chris Weihert – Orbitofrontal Cortex (OFC)
  • Winston Myers – Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC)
  • Phillip Wozny – Hippocampus (H)/ Basal Ganglia (BG)
Dancers (E & R)

  • James Farre
  • Hannah Fonder
  • Lilly Gerrity
  • Mysti Pride

Soundtrack Composer (Input)

  • Stinson Seuser
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