News and developments

Here is a sample of recent news/developments from our lab:

- Professor Talis Bachmann acted as a committee member / opponent in the defense of PhD by Lau Møller Andersen (supervised by Morten Overgaard) and presented a talk at the next day in the Aarhus University Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Denmark (11. – 12. January, 2016).

- On the 5th of November 2015, Renate Rutiku defended her PhD thesis “Refining the methodology for investigating the neural correlates of consciousness” (supervisor professor Talis Bachmann). The defense committee awarded the highest mark — summa cum laude. We all congratulate Renate for this outstanding achievement!

- Our visitor this week was Marcello Massimini from Milan. He acted as the opponent to Renate’s PhD dissertation. During his visit he also presented an open lecture in our university, titled “A Perturbational Approach to Gauge the Brain’s Capacity for Consciousness”.

- Renate Rutiku participated in the 1st International Brain Stimulation Conference in Singapore. She presented two posters “Frontally applied pre-stimulus TMS decreases visual discrimination performance” and “Long-interval paired pulse TMS leads to late positive wave components in NREM sleep”.

- On the 1st of March 2015, Carolina Murd received a post-doc research grant (PUTJD102, “The causal neural mechanisms of reward bias in perceptual decision making”, 01.03.2015-28.02.2017) from Estonian Research Council. She is currently doing research as guest post-doc under the supervision of prof. Christian Ruff (University of Zürich).

- On the 1st of January 2015, Endel Põder received a personal research grant (PUT663, “Integration of visual features in the perception of objects and textures”, 01.01.2015-31.12.2017) from Estonian Research Council.

- On the 20th of January 2015, Inga Karton successfully defended her PhD thesis “Deceptive communication: the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation and the signatures of electroencephalography”. Her supervisor was professor Talis Bachmann and her opponent was professor Dr. Bruno Verschuere, University of Amsterdam.

- Our PI Professor Talis Bachmann was invited to become one of the Co-Editors of the leading journal specializing in natural scientific studies of consciousness — Consciousness and Cognition. The invitation was accepted. The journal is published by Elsevier/Academic Press.

- Renate Rutiku has just returned from her research semester in New York. She spent September 2013 to March 2014 working under the supervision of Dr. Lucia Melloni and visiting several labs at New York University as well as Columbia University. Among these were the groups of Thomas Thesen, David Poeppel and Charles Schroeder. During her research stay her main focus was on a morphometry project. She also learned about the acquisition and the analysis of ECoG data.

- On 25th of February  Carolina Murd defended her PhD thesis “Mechanisms of processing visual motion information: Psychophysical, bioelectrical and transcranial magnetic stimulation investigations”. Her supervisors were professor Talis Bachmann and senior researcher Kairi Kreegipuu and her opponent was professor Jochen Müsseler from RWTH Aachen University, Germany. During his short visit to Estonia, professor Jochen Müsseler also visited our lab.

- Matthew Evan Larkum visited our lab, 19.VI – 21.VI, for seminars, colloquia and lectures. He also gave a public lecture in the University of Tartu. Based on his recent works on the BAC-mechanism published in Nature, Science, PNAS etc the discussions evolved primarily around the possible relation of this mechanism to perception, binding and consciousness and ways to test this experimentally.

- On 16th of May, prof. Wolf Singer is visiting our lab. He will also give lecture on “The Dynamic Brain: Time as coding space in cortical processing”.

- Renate Rutiku participated in the NBS 5th International Conference on Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation in Leipzig. She presented two posters “The contents of a steady visual background have an effect on TMS-evoked EEG perturbation: natural scenes compared to scenes with man-made environments increase ERP slow negativity” and “DLPFC is involved in perceptual decision-making but not metacognitive evaluation.”

- In december, 2012 our lab was visited by Dr Raoul Vicente (Max-Planck-Institute of Brain Research). He participated in seminar and gave consultations on NCC and computational modeling.

- In late September, 2012 our lab was visited by Professor Kuniyasu Imanaka (Tokyo Metropolitan University) and Dr Raoul Vicente (Max-Planck-Institute of Brain Research) for a couple of days. Agenda: seminars and colloquia on visual perception (masking, repesentational momentum) and computational modeling related to NCC, plus collaborative research on TMS/EEG as related to visual processing

- Toomas Kirt is participated in Osnabrück Computatonal Cognition Alliance Meeting on “Natural Computation in Hierarchies” (OCCAM 2012) on 4.-6.VI 2012. The title of his poster presentation was “Evolutionary parameter estimation for integrate-and-fire neural networks”

- Renate Rutiku, Kristjan Korjus and Jaan Aru were participating in the 16th annual meeting of the ASSC (Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness) in University of Sussex, Brighton, UK on 2. – 6. VII 2012. Renate presented poster “Prior knowledge enhances conscious perception early in time”.

- On May 2nd 2012, Randal Koene ( visited our lab and gave a lecture  on “Connecting Neurophysiology with Behavioral Function”. He gave an overview of hippocampal computational models and how they correspond to real- world behavior of neurons, neuronal groups and even whole organisms.

Randal Koene is a Dutch neuroscientist and -engineer. Currently he’s the Director of the Analysis team at the nanotechnology company Halcyon Molecular. Between 2008 and 2010, Koene was Director of the Department of Neuroengineering at Tecnalia, the third largest private research organization in Europe. Koene has Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from  McGill University, and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Delft University of Technology. He is a former Research Professor at the Center for Memory and Brain of Boston University, and is co-founder of the Neural Engineering Corporation of Massachusetts. His professional research objective is the implementation of whole brain emulation: creating the large-scale high-resolution representations and emulations of activity in neuronal circuitry that are needed in patient-specific neuroprostheses. He is a member of the Oxford working group that convened in 2007 to create a first roadmap toward whole brain emulation. Also, based on NETMORPH, Koene’s computational framework for the simulated morphological development of neuronal circuitry, he is working on Virtual Brain Laboratory to give neuroscientists, neuroengineers and clinicians large-scale high-resolution quantitative tools.

- Professor Kuniyasu Imanaka from the Tokyo Metropolitan University came to visit our lab for about three weeks in September (2011). He joined us for a study on the effect of visual information processing on the cortical spread of TMS-evoked brain potentials.

- Two new doctoral students joined our lab – Renate Rutiku (an Estonian young lady who just completed her studies in Germany) and Jaan Tulviste. Renate will do EEG-research on NCC and Jaan will specialize on modeling rehabilitation methods of neurological patients, including using TMS.  Anu Einberg and Mihkel Stamm continue their research as newly accredited master students.

- Elsevier’s SciTopics invited Talis Bachmann to write overviews on topics of interest he is specializing in. Since then, 4 items have appeared, devoted to topics such as EEG-based brain-imaging studies of visual-perceptual NCC, TMS effects on visual phenomenology, TMS brain-potential effects as a function of brain state, and research on principal differences between attention and consciousness.

- The September issue of New Scientist (2011) and Gehirn und Geist (belonging to the German branch of Scientific American) posted the description of the study by Inga Karton and Talis Bachmann about dorsolateral prefrontal-cortical TMS effects on truth telling versus lying in their science news. An Estonian popular-science magazine Tarkade Klubi September issue gives an extended coverage about this research.

- In 2011 Iiris and Carolina have had and for some time will have less time to spend in the lab. The reason is something to be proud of – they bothe are now young moms, with a little cute baby daughter for each J. And of course – „oh internet you saviour!”

- Oxford University Press (New York) published the Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness: A Brief Dictionary new edition (2011) (authors T. Bachmann, B.G. Breitmeyer, H. Öğmen).

- The news on research developments from 2010 onwards can be found in Research IV.