Coupling to the dynamics of the human brain with TMS–EEG

The Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS) at Aalto University School of Science organized a learning event titled Coupling to the dynamics of the human brain with TMS–EEG, on 3–8 June, 2013. The purpose was to clarify the present state of this research area, to brainstorm new ideas, to help integrate European and global efforts in the field, and to educate newcomers by bringing together leaders in the field as teachers and discussants.

This event was one of several Science Factories funded by the Aalto Institute of Science (AScI).  The event took place mostly in Sannäs Manor; hands-on training was organized in parallel at Aalto University, University of Helsinki and the BioMag Laboratory (joint research center of Aalto, Univ. Helsinki and the Helsinki Univ. Central Hospital).

The organizing committee was integrated by;

  • Prof. Risto Ilmoniemi, Aalto University, Finland (Course organizer)
  • Prof. Marcello Massimini, University of Milan, Italy (Course organizer)
  • Dr. Julio C. Hernandez-Pavon, Aalto University, Finland (Course administrator)

Altogether the Science factory attracted 54 participants:  41 were M.Sc. and Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researcher; 13 scientists participated as teachers, all of them leaders in the field. They gave lectures and instructed the students in different activities. The science factory was multidisciplinary and the participants came from 12 countries.


41 students: Belgium 1, Brazil 1, Canada 1, Croatia 1, Estonia 1, Finland 24, France 1, Germany 4, Italy 3, UK 1, USA 1, Switzerland 2.

13 speakers:  Finland 5, Germany 2, Italy 4, UK 1, USA 1

The faculty members were the following:

  • Prof. Synnöve Carlson, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Prof. Christoph Herrmann, University of Oldenburg, Germany
  • Prof. Risto Ilmoniemi, Aalto University, Finland
  • Prof. Jari Karhu, Nexstim Oy, Finland
  • Prof. Jukka Sarvas, Aalto University, Finland
  • Dr. Paolo Manganotti, University of Verona, Italy
  • Prof. Marcello Massimini, University of Milan, Italy
  • Prof. Carlo Miniussi, University of Brescia, Italy
  • Dr. Vadim Nikulin, Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Germany
  • Prof. Paolo Rossini, Catholic University of The Sacred Heart, Italy
  • Dr. Mouhsin Shafi, Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Dr. Juha Silvanto, Aalto University, Finland
  • Prof. Gregor Thut, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The hands-on sessions and signal analysis workshop were organized by Miika Leminen (Univ. Helsinki) Pantelis Lioumis (BioMag Laboratory), Johanna Metsomaa (Aalto University) and Julio Hernandez Pavon (Aalto University).

Students had prepared in advance a mini-poster about their background and interests for the "handshake" session and they presented a research poster during the course. They read some preparatory material prior to the course.

Each teacher conducted a teaching session of 45 min on his/her own research and perception of the field in an interactive manner: after each lecture for another hour, a group of 3–4 students led by a senior scientist acted as designated commentators, while the remaining students also participated in the discussion.

The science factory consisted of the following activities:

  1. Preparatory lectures of TMS basics and TMS–EEG methodology (Mon 3rd June).
  2. A 3-day intensive workshop (Tue – Thu, 4th – 6th June) where the leading researchers of the field presented their work and understanding, discussed the topics, and coached the students.
  3. Presentations of the students summarizing the topics of the workshop and related literature.
  4. Hands-on TMS–EEG training (Mon 3rd and Fri 7th June).
  5. A data analysis hands-on workshop (Sat 8th June).

In summary, this Science factory was a very successful event where neuroscientists, medical doctors, physicists, mathematicians, psychologists and engineers shared a unique experience and some collaborations started. One of the students, Nele de Geeter from Gent, Belgium, was motivated by the event to visit BECS (January–March 2014) for research and learning. Another student, Dr. Maja Rocic from Split, Croatia, is applying for a scholarship to spend 3 years as postdoctoral researcher at BECS (2014–). We strongly believe that it would be very useful to organize similar science factories also in the future. In particular, the new interactive format proved to be very successful.


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