Synchronizing brains, minds and machines

A Sino-German Symposium on Brain-Machine Systems

Within the 2nd IEEE International Conference on Human-Machine Systems

Time: 9. September 2021
Location: Magdeburg, Germany (online via zoom)

About the Symposium Keynote Speakers Schedule Organizers Call for Papers EasyChair

About the future of neuro-enhancement and –rehabilitation with neuromodulation using neurotechnology

The IEEE International Conference on Human-Machine Systems (ICHMS) is the annual meeting of the IEEE Human-Machine Systems community which includes researchers and practitioners to promote fundamental contributions in the field of human-machine systems.

Our special Sino-German Symposium “Brain-Machine Systems” emphasizes the interactions between the brain and nervous system with external machine systems. For example, a brain-computer interface controls the exoskeleton to help stroke or spinal cord injury patient's movement rehabilitation. But the opposite is also possible, namely that scientists use external sources (electric current- or magnetic stimulation) to modulate the brain states and their functional connectivity networks with their respective neurophysiological synchronization states. Current applications include non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to improve cognition in normal subjects, depression, or low vision and blindness. Other examples are deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, depression, or epilepsy. In sum, brain-machine interactions are a novel “non-drug” approach to modulate normal human brain functions, and this has multiple medical applications for the diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmological, neurological, and psychiatric diseases. Undoubtedly, brain-machine technology opens up new horizons for neuro-enhancement and to uncover untapped potentials of the brain with opportunities to significantly improve patients' quality of life and help to provide insight into the study of the human mind. So what will the next decade bring us? We invite contributions in the field of innovative neurotechnologies to discuss current developments and future directions. The theme of this year's special symposium is:

Synchronizing brains, minds and machines

The symposium provides a platform for Chinese and German academic researchers to present their latest progress of brain-computer interaction, brain stimulation, brain-inspired intelligence, neurorehabilitation, and AI in neuroscience, to facilitate scientific advancements and academic exchange between the two countries. The conference is open to everyone, irrespective of country.


Prof. Dr. Bernhard A. Sabel

Neurostimulation and network-thinking of the brain

Director of Institute for Medical Psychology, Medical Faculty
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg

Prof. Dr. Andrea Antal

Transcranial electrical stimulation in the clinical practice

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Center Göttingen

Prof. Dr. Ulf Ziemann

Real-time EEG-TMS for brain-state dependent stimulation

Medical Director of the Department of Neurology, University Hospital and Medical Faculty Tübingen

Prof. Dr. Surjo R. Soekadar

Next-generation Brain/Neural-Machine Interfaces for Restoration of Brain Function

Head of research divison Translation and Neurotechnology, Head of research group Clinical Neurotechnology
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany

Prof. Luming Li

Technology Advances in Deep Brain Stimulation

Director of the National Engineering Laboratory of Neuromodulation Technology
Tsinghua University, China

Prof. Jia Liu

Principles that govern the topographic organization of human visual cortex

Chief Scientist of Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence,Tsinghua University, China

Prof. Huiguang He

Is Deep Learning Brain-like? Using fMRI to reconstruct Images.

Institute of Automation, Brain-Inspired Intelligence
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASIA)

Prof. Shouyan Wang

Towards precicely modulating the brain actitivities

Institute of Science and Technology of Bain Inspired Intelligence
Fudan University, China

Prof. Xiaojian Li

The new toolchain development for brain machine interface study in animal model

Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology
Chinese Academy of Sciences


Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

Time is Central European Summer Time (UTC+2). The Sino-German Symposium on Brain-Machine-Systems will be parallel to Sessions 5-8 on day 2. In case you have any question during the conference, don't hesitate and contact the organizers. You can also send us an email via

The Sino-German Symposium, Session 1 (Zoom)
Topic: IEEE Sino-German Symposium on Brain-Machine Systems
Time: Sep 9, 2021 09:30 AM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 697 8618 4447
Passcode: 123456

Hosted by: Bernhard A. Sabel

Each lecture : 25mins talk and 5 mins Q&A

Opening Talk: Bernhard A. Sabel

Neurostimulation and network-thinking of the brain(Abstract)
Behavioural and mental functions can be altered by non-invasive brain current stimulation (NIBS) which alters the neurophysiological state. But NIBS-effects are rather variable across subjects and the question arises if factor(s) other than stimulation parameters influence outcome. Used the visual system as a model, we studied if and how “systemic factors” influence neuromodulation effects. Patients with partial blindness caused by stroke or optic nerve damage received NIBS for 10 days (30-40 min tACS) and their vision recovery was correlated with EEG bio-markers. Outcome was associated (i) with characteristic plasticity patterns of global functional connectivity network (FCN) reorganization in resting state alpha-band oscillations and (ii) with the ability of the FCN to rapidly reorganize in response to visual stimuli in the millisecond range changing the FCN spacetime pattern. Furthermore, (iii) personality questionnaires showed that patients with poor recovery were more prone to stress: they were emotionally unstable (neurotic), anxious, unhappy, impulsive, careless and unorganized. We propose that excessive/long-term stress hormone release leads to secondary aggravation of the primary pathology due to vascular dysregulation (vasoconstriction) leading to neuronal hypo-metabolic inactivation (“silencing”). Hence, NIBS-induced neurological recovery (here: vision restoration) might be explained by a double-punch mechanism: NIBS triggers “silenced” neurons to fire action potentials again in the retina and brain while simultaneously dilating microvessels to improve blood flow and reduce the hypo-metabolic state. We conclude that NIBS-induced brain plasticity may not only be a neuronal affair but also one of improved neurovascular coupling and/or blood flow.

About Bernhard A. Sabel, PhD, is professor of medical psychology Otto-v.-Guericke University of Magdeburg. He received is PhD in psychobiology at Clark University (Worcester, USA) and held different academic appointments at M.I.T., Princeton Univ., Harvard Medical School and Univ. Munich Medical School. He was adjunct Professor at Capital Medical Univ., Beijing Tongren Hospital Eye Clinic and senior visiting professor at Inst. Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing, PR China). He received different awards, including Maria Saveria Cinquegrani-Award for “Best Innovation in Communication and Information Technologies” of the European Community (Italy), Leonardo Da Vinci-Award of the World Org. Achievement of Human Potential (USA), Gusi Peace Prize (Philippines), and the “Haju”-award from the City of Beijing (China). He is founder the SAVIR-Center for vision restoration and current leaderships are Board of Governors, Intern. Brain Injury Association (IBIA); Exec. Brd. Member & Secretary, “Intern Soc. Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation” (ISLRR), and Chairman “Association of German Universities (DHV)” state chapter. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience”, and his research focus is brain plasticity and vision restoration after visual system damage and its modulation by behavioral and non-invasive current stimulation techniques (ACS, DCS).

Luming Li

Technology Advances in Deep Brain Stimulation(Abstract)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a functional therapy is widely used in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, dystonia etc. Recently, more and more researches show that DBS could help patients with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, OCD etc. On the other hand, the mechanism of DBS is still not in-depth understanding. The history of development of DBS in China is around 20 years. The novel feature of the device, contrasting to the conventional high frequency stimulation, a various frequency stimulation(VFS) therapy, combing low and high frequencies as a train, was invented. VFS shows great progress for gait problem treatment. The clinical outcome of VFS is presented in this talk. Another technology advance is remote programming, to transfer the programming data by internet in stead of in site which cause money and time burden particularly for patients in middle and west of China. To further understand why the different frequency has significant impacts or as a part of effect to the mechanism of DBS, DBS device was modified and considered as not only a therapy but a research tool also. Two studies will be presented in this talk. 1. DBS was designed to real time recording besides stimulation. 2. DBS was designed to be functional MRI compatible which means the devices, implanted in patient, could fulfill the safety requirement during scanning with DBS power on. This progress let us to compare what happened with or without stimulation.


Surjo R. Soekadar

Next-generation Brain/Neural-Machine Interfaces for Restoration of Brain Function(Abstract)
Brain/neural-machine interfaces linking brain activity with digital devices are becoming powerful scientific and clinical tools, e.g. for restoration of movement and communication in paralysis. However, most BCI paradigms are limited to unidirectional ("reading-out”) applications because BCI-mediated brain electric stimulation introduces stimulation artifacts that impede proper brain activity recordings. This talk will sketch how introducing bidirectional BCI interaction may increase the scientific and clinical scope of neurotechnologies and introduce recent advances on this path.

About Surjo R. Soekadar, MD, is Einstein Professor of Clinical Neurotechnology and head of the Center for Translational Neuromodulation at the Charité - University Medicine Berlin. From 2009-2011, he was fellow at the Human Cortical Physiology and Stroke Neurorehabilititation Section (HCPS) at the NIH, USA. After his return to Germany, he became head of the Applied Neurotechnology Lab at the University Hospital of Tübingen, where he also served as senior consultant in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. His research interests include cortical plasticity in the context of brain/neural-machine interface (B/NMI) applications, non-invasive brain stimulation and neural mechanisms of learning and memory.

Jia Liu

Principles that govern the topographic organization of human visual cortex(Abstract)
Our mind can represent various objects in the physical world metaphorically in an abstract and complex high-dimensional object space. But how is the object space physically implemented in a 2-dimensional cortical surface of our brain? Mounting empirical evidence shows a topographic organization of various object categories in the ventral temporal cortex (VTC) of the human and non-human primate brain. However, the fundamental organizing principle that governs the emergence of such a topographical organization map in the VTC remains unclear. Here, we propose a new biologically-constrained computational model to explain the emergence of the object-category map. Specifically, inspired by the wiring cost minimization principle, we built a new self-organization map (SOM) model with the wiring length of neurons in the human VTC as a critical biological constraint. Importantly, our SOM model took as input a high-dimensional object representation space, derived via a state-of-art deep convolutional neural network, and output a 2-dimensional artificial VTC map. Testing with the empirical human neuroimaging data and monkey single-unit data, we further demonstrated that our artificial VTC could reproduce many topographic features of the human VTC and exhibit similar neural responses and functional hierarchy of the monkey inferior temporal cortex (ITC). These findings illustrate that the wiring cost minimalization principle combined with the biological constraint of the lateral wiring span in the human temporal lobe are sufficient to determine the emergence of the category-selective regions and abstract functional maps in the human VTC, while reserving their functionality. Our approach thus offers a formal framework to the more comprehensive understanding of the linkage between the brain, mind, and physical world.


Huiguang He

Is Deep Learning Brain-like? Using fMRI to reconstruct Images.(Abstract)
There is argument whether deep learning is brain-like or not. We first use advanced computing method to establish the mapping model between the visual system and the external visual stimuli, and explore the mechanism of brain visual information processing. And then, we study the relationship between deep learning and brain visual information processing to understand the expression of each layer in the cerebral cortex. Finally, we develop a deep Bayesian generative model to reconstruct the image through fMRI signal.

About Huiguang He is currently a full professor with Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASIA). He received BS degree (1994) and MS degree (1997) from Dalian Maritime University (DMU). He got the Ph.D. degree (with honor) in pattern recognition and intelligent systems from CASIA. He was Associate Lecturer in DMU (1997~1999), and postdoctoral researcher (2003~2004) in University of Rochester, USA. He was visiting professor in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2014.10-2015.4). He won the following awards: Excellent Ph.D. dissertation of CAS (2004), National Science & Technology Award (2003, 2004), Beijing Sicence& Technology Award (2002, 2003), K.C. Wong Education Prizes (2007, 2009), and “Lu Jiaxi” Yong Talent Prize (2009). His research interests include brain computer interface, medical image processing and brain inspired intelligence. He published more than 150 papers in the peer-reviewed journal and conference.
12:30 - 14:00

Lunch Break

The Sino-German Symposium, Session 2 (Zoom)
Topic: IEEE Sino-German Symposium on Brain-Machine Systems
Time: Sep 9, 2021 14:00AM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 697 8618 4447
Passcode: 123456

Hosted by: Bernhard A. Sabel

Xiao Jian Li

The new toolchain development for brain machine interface study in animal model(Abstract)
As a neuroscientist with the background of chemical engineering and biophysics, I made some technical contributions when I worked in neurobiology labs. I have interest not only on the fundamental neuroscience research, but also on developing technology for neuroengineering. Animal models are always my choice for innovative and implanted BMI study. Material scientists are my top collaborators on exploring new technology. In the field of neuromorphic engineering, we mimic the plasticity of the synapse and routing matrix of the axons and dendrites of the neurons to build the neural network, trying to simulate the biological intelligence. Neuron-like or substrate-like sensors can be helpful sensing and collecting neural energy or information, which is also the neural interface study. The other side of neural interface study is for neuromodulation, nanotechnology was applied to modulate the activity of neurons by transferring biophysical energy into them. In this talk I‘d like to describe some of the projects, including the high-bandwidth Brain Machine interface system with monkey study.

AboutXiaojian li is a professor of engineering at the Brain Cognition and Brain Disease Institute of Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He received the B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Northwest University, Xi’an, China, and the Ph. D. degree in biophysics from Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. He did the postdoc training in Professor Joe Tsien’s lab at Medical College of Georgia and was involved in the mice“brain decoding project”. Then he joined in Professor Gordon M. G. Shepherd’s lab at Northwestern University to study the functional neural circuits with novel technologies. In 2018 Dr. Li moved back to China and joined in SIAT, CAS. He is currently working on developing high bandwidth Brain-Machine Interface system and neuromorphic devices in broad collaborations.

Ulf Ziemann

Real-time EEG-TMS for brain state-dependent stimulation in humans(Abstract)
The electrophysiological states of the brain change rapidly over time. Different states show differential responsivity to a given input. Real-time analysis of brain states can be done with electroencephalography (EEG). We demonstrated that different phases of the sensorimotor µ-oscillation reflect differential excitability states of the corticospinal system by measuring motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitudes when transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses were applied to either the peak or trough of the ongoing µ-rhythm. TMS at the trough resulted in larger MEPs than TMS at the peak. We also demonstrated that repetitive burst-TMS resulted in long-term potentiation (LTP)-like increase in MEP amplitudes, but only when the high-excitability state (trough) was targeted, not when the low-excitability state (peak) was targeted with the otherwise identical TMS protocol. First clinical applications of this brain state-dependent TMS will also be presented. In summary, we provide evidence that the instantaneous brain state is decisive on the magnitude and direction of repetitive TMS effects. Further development of brain state-dependent and closed-loop stimulation approaches will very likely soon lead to a paradigm shift in the field of therapeutic brain stimulation.

AboutProfessor Ulf Ziemann, MD Director of the Department Neurology & Stroke, Co-Director of the Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Germany. Research expertise: Human motor cortex, excitability, plasticity, motor learning, TMS, brain state-dependent stimulation, neuropharmacology, TMS-EEG. Clinical expertise: Stroke, neurointensive care, neuroimmunology, clinical neurophysiology. Current positions: Editor-in-Chief of “Clinical Neurophysiology”, ExCo member of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology (IFCN), Deputy Editor of “Brain Stimulation”, Past-President of the German Society for Clinical Neurophysiology and Functional Imaging (DGKN). Awards: Richard-Jung Prize of the German Society of Clinical Neurophysiology and Functional Neuroimaging (DGKN), National Institutes of Health (NIH, Bethesda, USA) Merit Award, NIH Fellowship Award for Research Excellence. Publications: 375 peer-reviewed publications, 42 book chapters, 7 Books, Cumulative IF: 2.117, ISI Citations: 32.000, ISI h-index: 90, Google scholar h-index: 105.

Shouyan Wang

Towards precisely modulating the brain activities(Abstract)
The closed-loop deep brain stimulation has showed great potentials to precisely modulate the brain activities through dynamically decoding the neural information and adaptively stimulate the nucleus. The biomarkers from neural oscillations are one of the key elements to develop the closed-loop strategy. A coding strategy of dynamic neural states with multiple temporally varying oscillations was developed. The dynamic neural states have showed significant correlation with the symptoms in neuropathic pain and Parkinson’s disease. An adaptive strategy for closed-loop deep brain stimulation based on dynamic neural states was further developed and verified in animal model of Parkinson’s disease. The translational research from animal model and mathematical modelling into clinical application was explored to investigate the feasible approaches to achieve precisely modulating the brain activities.

AboutProfessor Shouyan Wang is the Vice Dean Institute of Science and Technology for Brain-Inspired Intelligence, Fudan University. He had conducted research on neural information decoding and deep brain stimulation at University of Oxford (2002-2007), University of Southampton (2007-2012) and Chinese Academic of Sciences (2012-2017) before he joined Fudan University. He has developed research platform for neuromodulation at Fudan University, which include research facilities for invasive neuromodulation, non-invasive neuromodulation, advanced technology development of intelligent neuromodulation and neuroimaging as well. His research interests are intelligent neuromodulation, digital healthcare and translational research into clinical applications.

Andrea Antal

Transcranial electrical stimulation in the clinical practice(Abstract)
The number of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as chronic pain, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer diseases, depression, has increased over the past decade, representing a prominent health problem worldwide. While pharmacological therapies can improve symptoms in some patients, individuals often experience adverse effects and can develop tolerance to medications whereby they become less effective. In such cases, transcranial brain stimulation (TBS) of the neural circuitry related to the given disorder represents a promising treatment modality. TBS acts on both the grey and white matter to modulate neural activity by delivering electric or magnetic energy to targeted areas using specific temporal and spatial patterns. Although TBS has been used with some success for over 20 years in the clinical practice, it suffers from time-intensive trial-and-error parameter refinement and highly variable outcomes in patients. Computational simulations are increasingly being used to model the interaction between electric or magnetic stimulation, neural anatomy, and endogenous brain dynamics in order to understand the mechanisms of stimulation, but there is still so much work ahead. Combining brain stimulation with brain imaging, individualizing stimulation protocols, predicting treatment response, identifying biomarkers are representing important and thriving developments currently worked on in many labs worldwide. The aim of the present lecture is to shortly summarize these developments, using transcranial direct and alternating current stimulation.

AboutAndrea Antal PhD, extraordinary Professor and the head of the Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Laboratory at the Department of Neurology, University Medical Center, Göttingen, Germany. She is a biologist, with over 30 year’s laboratory work experience relating to human clinical studies and with an extensive background in research and training in the fields of clinical neurophysiology. Starting from 2001, she have had a pivotal role in building up and coordinating the activities in the visual and later the pain laboratories in Göttingen. Her research team has robust experience in development and application of stimulation techniques such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation, alternating current stimulation or random noise stimulation (tDCS, tACS, tRNS). She has published about 270 research articles an reviews and her H-index is 66.
16:00 - 16:30

Coffee Break

16:30 - 17:30

Brain Storming Panel Discussion For Young Scientists (Zoom)
Topic: IEEE Sino-German Symposium on Brain-Machine Systems
Time: Sep 9, 2021 16:30 AM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 697 8618 4447
Passcode: 123456

Hosted by: Jiahua Xu


Symposium closed


Local young scientist organizers

Jiahua Xu (University of Magdeburg)
Felix Putze (University of Bremen)
Ningfei Li (Charité – University Medicine Berlin)
Zheng Wu (University of Magdeburg)
Ying Gao (Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Axel Boese (INKA-Lab Magdeburg)
Alfredo Illanes (INKA-Lab Magdeburg)
Fengxue Qi (Beijing Sport University)
Shenghong He (University of Oxford)
Ren Xu (G.tec Austria)
Jingwen Qiao (Fudan University)

Program Committee

Prof. Dr. Bernhard A. Sabel

Director of Institute for Medical Psychology, Medical Faculty
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg

Prof. Dr. Andreas Nürnberger

Institute of Technical and Business Information Systems
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg

Prof. Michael Friebe, PhD

INKA-Application Driven Research
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg

Supporting Organizations