Interdisciplinary College 2017 – Creativity and Intelligence in Brains and Machines: From Individuals to Societies

As a member of the Executive Board, I would like to spread the word about the Interdisciplinary College in March 2017:

The Interdisciplinary College (IK) is an annual, intense one-week spring school which offers a dense state-of-the-art course program in neurobiology, neural computation, cognitive science/psychology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and philosophy. It is aimed at students, postgraduates and researchers from academia and industry. The focus topic of the IK 2017 directs the attention to creativity and intelligence as prototypically human characteristics and capacities, investigating their role and importance for the individual but also for society as a whole.


  • Luc Steels (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)
  • Dieter Jaeger (Emory University, Atlanta, USA)
  • Tarek R. Besold (University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)

Over the last years creativity has become the focus of numerous research projects and entire disciplines, ranging from investigations into the neural foundations of human creativity to Computational Creativity as attempted “computerization” of creative processes (or parts thereof). Creativity is usually conceptualized as sharing a close connection with intelligence, for instance in that the latter often is taken as a precondition of creativity. But creativity also is a necessarily social phenomenon: While creativity
often starts out on an individual basis, and creative acts are ultimately implemented by individuals, society very often enables creativity to happen either in making creative individuals collaborate, or in emergently giving rise to a genuinely collective creative process.

Language serves as connecting thread between the topics creativity, intelligence, the individual, and society. Creativity and intelligence often manifest in language, and individuals and society rely on (different forms of) language as indispensable medium of communication.

Correspondingly, the IK 2017 will consider the mentioned topics from different theoretical as well as applied perspectives, offering courses clustered into four interwoven blocks:

  • Creativity
  • Neuroscience – From Data to Theory and Back
  • Language
  • The Social

Moving to Zürich

My new home: the famous Burghölzli in Zurich. Founded in the 19th century and with famous residents such as Jung, Bleuler, and Rorschach, the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Zürich is now a modern facility in a very scenic environment. More than this, it is also a great place to do progressive research. I am working now as a PostDoc in Frank Scharnowski‘s newly founded research group. Our main focus will be real-time fMRI neurofeedback and supporting our partners from the clinical research groups with methodological expertise, such as optimized data pre-processing strategies, resting state functional connectivity, and DCM. I already had time to meet my lovely colleagues and to set up my espresso machine. Oh, and did I mention the scenic environment?

I’m your Private Docent

Yesterday, just in time before we are moving to Zurich, I received my habilitation at the Medical University of Vienna in Medical Physics. The toughest part was probably to blitz through 6 years of research in a ten-minute presentation. I hope I did mention all collaborators and funding sources… Anyway, I was so happy that my family, friends, and colleagues were all there to support me. After the party I truly enjoyed my rehabilitation holiday in Spain, together with Katja and Lea.

My third OHBM Merit Abstract Award! Off to Hawaii!

Great news! Martin Tik, Lucia Navarro, and I have each been selected to receive a Merit Abstract Award for the 2015 OHBM Annual Meeting in Honolulu (Hawaii, USA). After a double-blind peer-review process, only the top-rated abstracts were selected for this competitive award. Martin Tik will present his work on ultra-high field functional MR imaging of the human brain during an Aha!-moment as a poster. Lucia Navarro will give an oral presentation on the benefits of her newly-developed MRI acquisition coil in combination with transcranial magnetic stimulation. My effective connectivity study on emotion processing in the extended amygdala network shall be also presented in one of the few oral presentation slots. Aloha!

Science Slam

Last night I participated in a science slam. Unlike traditional academic talks, they want you to present your research without any slides and figures – which is kind of haaard if you do neuroimaging. However, I got a bit creative and won the audience vote with my talk Ins Hirn einischaun (Lookin’ into the brain). To my big surprise the Austrian Minister for Science, Dr. Karl-Heinz Töchterle, was also in the audience.

This way to the video of my 7-minute talk: Vimeo, YouTube