Brain research project led by Aalto University awarded a 10M € grant

The ConnectToBrain project was awarded a Synergy Grant of 10 million euros by the European Research Council (ERC). The new methods are based on rapid, algorithm-controlled magnetic stimulation pulses that excite neurons and forge connections across brain regions. The research will explore new therapies for a wide range of neurological conditions—from depression to Parkinson’s disease.

The Synergy Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) was awarded to a Finnish research team for the first time in history. Aalto University receives four million euros of the 10-million-euro budget awarded for the ConnectToBrain project.

The ConnectToBrain project seeks to radically improve the techniques for brain stimulation in current clinical use. Synergistically complementing the research group of Aalto University Professor Risto Ilmoniemi, other research groups include the team of Professor Emeritus Gian Luca Romani from Italy, and the group of Professor Ulf Ziemann from Germany.

The project will implement multi-locus transcranial magnetic stimulation (mTMS) that will be able to switch between individual stimulation points at intervals of only a few milliseconds. In Finland, the new technology will be piloted in the BioMag Laboratory in cooperation with physicians from the Helsinki University Hospital, where the researchers will also have access to the magnetoencephalography (MEG) neuroimaging technique developed originally at Aalto University.

‘The difference between the old and new technology is comparable to a concert pianist playing her instrument delicately with both hands, adjusting the sound while listening to the music—rather than mindlessly strumming a single note while wearing ear plugs,’ says Aalto University Professor Risto Ilmoniemi.

The costs associated with neurological diseases amount to 1000 billion euros per year in Europe alone. The methods for brain stimulation therapy to be developed inConnectToBrain are expected to save up to a billion euros annually in Europe with considerable cuts to both cost of care and duration of sick leaves.

Read the original news piece on Aalto University website.