Human Systems Neuroscience


Our mission

We aim to understand how the human brain works by following electrophysiological and hemodynamic changes by means of noninvasive imaging: magnetoencephalography (MEG) to track brain dynamics at millisecond scale and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to spot the active brain areas with millimeter precision. This systems-neuroscience approach suits well for merging information from many fields of science interested in human behavior: neuroscience, psychology, social psychology, neurology, and psychiatry. We translate basic-research results to clinics via CliniMEG

Recent history

This group has played a key role in aivoAALTO , Aalto University's multidiciplinary spearhead research prject running in 2009–2014 as well as in the ramp-up phase of the new Aalto Brain Centre . We are also members in the European Flagship Project Human Brain Project (HBP). We have received significant funding from European Research Council and the Academy of Finland.
The group has dense collaboration network within Aalto and several collaborators at different departments of University of Helsinki and Helsinki Central Hospital. Other close collaaborators include e.g. Erasme Hospital in Brussels, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Recent publications

The full publication list of the Brain Research Unit of the OV Lunasmaa Laboratory since 2006 is available at

Some recent key publications:

  • Bourguignon M, Piitulainen H, De Tiège X, Jousmäki V, Hari R: Corticokinematic coherence mainly reflects movement-induced proprioceptive feedback. NeuroImage 2015.
  • Hari R, Parkkonen L: The brain timewise: How timing shapes and supports brain function. Philosophical Transactions B 2015.
  • Henriksson L, Khaligh-Razavi S-M, Kay K, Kriegeskorte N: Visual representations are dominated by intrinsic fluctuations correlated between areas. NeuroImage 2015.
  • Hotta J, Nummenmaa L, Harno H, Hari R, Forss N: Patients with complex regional pain syndrome overestimate applied force in observed hand actions. European Journal of Pain 2015
  • Kauppi JP, Kandemir M, Saarinen VM, Hirvenkari L, Parkkonen L, Klami A, Hari R, Kaski S: Towards brain-activity-controlled information retrieval: Decoding image relevance from MEG signals. NeuroImage 2015
  • Nevalainen P, Rahkonen P, Pihko E, Lano A, Vanhatalo S, Andersson S, Autti T, Valanne L, Metsaranta M, Lauronen L: Evaluation of somatosensory cortical processing in extremely preterm infants at term with MEG and EEG. Clinical Neurophysiology 2015, 126: 275–283.
  • Piitulainen H, Bourguignon M, Hari R, Jousmäki V: MEG-compatible pneumatic device to elicit passive finger and toe movements. NeuroImage 2015
  • Vartiainen N, Forss N: Krooniseen kipuun liittyvien aivomuutosten kuvantaminen. Duodecim 2015, 130: 7–14.

Research interests

Brain basis of social interaction

Humans are tuned for and shaped by social interaction. Inherently, studies of the brain basis of social interaction are utmost challenging because the stimuli (gestures, postures, facial expressions, etc) are highly variable, and the brain responses depend in an unpredictable manner on the context, emotional state, and even on reactions of the interacting subject him/herself. Such studies are strongly motivated by the high number of disorders of social interaction, such as autism.

We are interested in socially relevant motor and sensory interaction systems that are activated during the subjects own actions or sensory percepts as well as when the subject observes another person performing a similar motor act or experiencing a similar sensory event. Such "mirroring systems" likely form the basis for intersubjective understanding.

We have developed new setups and analysis methods for naturalistic experimental conditions, with the aim of bringing the social life to the imaging laboratory by presenting e.g. movies to the subjects. One goal has been to move towards real "two-person neuroscience", both experimentally and conceptually, and we now have a working setof for simultaneous measurements of brain activity from two persons.

Sensory and motor systems

We study the human senrorimotor systems with increasingly complex stimulus settings, such as movie viewing, coversation and complex visual stimuli. Much of recent work has been related to corticokinematic coherence that we have demonstrated to mainly reflect proprioceptive input to the cortex.

Clinically oriented work

Our ongoing patient studies focus on the mechanisms of chronic pain, especially of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and on the signature of recovery from stroke. This work is carried our by our CliniMEG team in close collaboration with other members of the Systems and Clinical Neuroscience section.

Methodological development

The most recent methodological development has been related to improved tools for corticokinetic coherence; for a detailed description, see


Systems and clinical neuroscience

Forss Nina, MD PhD, senior scientist, Head of the Department of Neurology (HUS), Director of CliniMEG (part time)
Hari Riitta, MD PhD, Aalto Distinguished Professor
Jousmäki Veikko, PhD, docent, senior scientist; Director of ANI, Aalto Neuroimaging Infrastructure, see
Koskinen Miika, DrTech, docent
Pihko Elina, PhD, docent, senior scientist; Coordinator of aivoAALTO

Bourguignon Mathieu, PhD, postdoctoral scientist
Laaksonen Kristiina, MD PhD, neurologist (HUS), CliniMEG member (part time)
Henriksson Linda, DrTech, Academy postdoctoral researcher
Himberg Tommi, postdoctoral scientist
Piitulainen Harri, PhD, Academy postdoctoral researcher
Zhou Guangyu, PhD, postdoctoral scientist

Hirvenkari Lotta, MSc, PhD student (biology); supervisor Riitta Hari
Hotta Jaakko, MD, PhD student (neurology; part time); supervisor Nina Forss, Riitta Hari
Kaltiainen Hanna, MD PhD student (neurology; part time), supervisor Nina Forss
Lankinen Kaisu, MSc Tech, PhD student (physics); supervisor Miika Koskinen
Mandel Anne, PhD student (cognitive science), supervisor Riitta Hari
Parkkonen Eeva, MD PhD student (neurology; part time), supervisor Nina Forss
Pamilo Siina, MSc(Tech), PhD student (cognitive technology/aivoAALTO); supervisors Riitta Hari and Mika Seppä
Saari Jukka, MSc(Tech) undergrad student (physics); supervisor Miika Koskinen
Smeds Eero, MD (on leave for civil service); supervisors Riitta Hari and Lauri Parkkonen

Saarinen Veli-Matti, MSc(Tech); eye-traking engineer

Olander Kaisu, undergrad student (physics); supervisor Linda Henriksson
summer student NN; superviros Miika Koskinen

Hlushchuk Yevhen, MD PhD, visiting scientist @ aivoAALTO (part time)
Raij Tuukka, MD PhD, psychiatrist, visiting scientist (part time)
Schurmann Marting, MD PhD, professor at Nottingham
Yokosawa Koichi, prof., University of Sapporo, Japan

Recent group members

Seppä Mika, DrTech, postdoctoral scientist; currently data scientist
Malinen Sanna, DrTech, postdictiral scientist; currently data scientist at Sanoma
Menoret Mathilde, PhD, postdoctoral scientist; currently scientist in France
Kauppi Jukka-Pekka, PhD, postdoctoral scientist; currently postdoc in Berlin
Hiltunen Jaana, PhD, specialized hospital physicist; currently hospital physicist
Lamminmäki Satu, MD, PhD; currently specializing in ENT at HUCH
Nangini Catherine, PhD, postdoctoral scientist; currently Chair of [SAFER]
Baess Pamela, PhD, postdoctoral scientist; currently in Ulm Germany [Pamela Amuri]
Nummenmaa Lauri, PhD; currently Professor @ BECS, Aalto [here]
Parkkonen Lauri, DrTech; currently Professor @ BECS, Aalto [here]
Pannasch Sebastian, PhD; currenty Professor in Dresden [here]
Ramkumar Pavan, DrTech; currently postdoc in Chicago [here]
Himanen Lauri, undergraduate student (physics)
Keitaanniemi Mariia, undergrad student (physics)
Kumar Kranthi, undergrad student (signal analysis)
Mäntykangas Mika undergrad student (physics)
Tiainen Mikko undergrad student (psychology)

Current collaborations

Belgium Erasme Hospital,
  • Costicokinetic coherence
  • Two-person neuroscience

FINLAND Aalto University
  • Signal analysis (e.g. ICA and source modelling)
  • Neuroeconomics (effect of competition)
  • Neurocinematics

FINLAND Elekta-Neuromag Oy
  • Research agreement (validation, consultation, education)

FINLAND Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUS)
  • Pain research
  • Psychiatric imaging
  • Clinical MEG recordings

  • Joint action

JAPAN Sapporo Univerity
  • Auditory emotional processing

UNITED KINGDOM University of Nottingham
  • Social neuroscience, neuroeconomics

USA Massachusetts General Hospital & Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Modelling and visualization of MEG signals

Group meetings

Journal clubs 2009