What we learned from Professor Andreas Ioannides

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30 September. 2019



"Presenting and being in the audience at RISE was a pleasant experience, somewhat reminiscent of my time in other places abroad. In my presentation, I had the clear objective of stating honestly and clearly why, with good will on both sides, a real collaboration between my team and RISE will benefit all concerned and particularly the country."

Following the presentation at RISE, Professor Andreas Ioannides answered some key questions and explained how one's goals can be achieved, through hard work and persistence. 

  1. What motivated you to study physics and why you eventually focused for your research in neuroscience?
My aspiration in high school was to study many subjects and become “homo universalis”. I simply started with Physics. The events of 1974 made physics a profession, but I resumed my original plan at the Open University (UK): as a member of staff, I could study any topic I liked. Over 6 years I completed a diverse range of courses (equivalent to two full time UK degrees).  During the same period, I did research with people from different disciplines, including the inverse problem in Biomagnetism and its demon (having no unique solution). I quickly realized that I could adapt for Biomagnetism the approach I developed for the inverse scattering problem in nuclear physics (my “bread winner” at the time).  I saw that succeeding could provide the only method for looking inside the brain non-invasively at the appropriate spatial and temporal resolution. I convinced my Physics department to invest in allowing me to focus on this problem, promising to deliver the first dynamic imaging of the brain within 5 years.  I am always thankful for the UK Open University for trusting me with this, and I repaid my debt sooner by completing the task in two years.  As the saying goes, the rest is history…

2. Which breakthrough or insight of your work excited you the most and why?
There were significant insights in each stage of my career. In nuclear Physics, I discovered with my PhD supervisor a new type of tensor force between nucleons [1]. Later the optimization of tools for the inverse problem in elastic scattering data [2, 3] led to new insights in a range of nuclear scattering phenomena.
The magnetoencephalography (MEG) adaptation of the mathematical framework I developed in nuclear physics [4, 5] was my ticket for neuroscience research.  The first major insights came through work with Prof. Rodolfo Llinas: imaging gamma band oscillations between thalamus and cortex [6],  beta oscillations between sensory and motor cortices [7] and the network of activity related to Parkinson tremor [8].  Heading MEG laboratories in Germany (1994-1998) and Japan (1998 – 2009) led to too many new insights, too numerous to list let alone describe, so I provide reviews from early [9, 10] and later [11, 12] years with references of the detailed papers. From my recent work in Cyprus, the sleep-related work stands out [13, 14] and particularly the insights leading to the concept of the neural representation of self (NRS) [15]. This concept helps us understand better many pathologies [16] and by explaining how some novel interventions like neurofeedback work [15], provides new clues how their efficacy can be improved [16].

3. You mentioned in your presentation the difficulties you faced in order to develop your research in Cyprus. How did you persevere through these difficulties?

I returned to Cyprus twice.  The first time two years after my PhD. I left three years later determined to achieve my goals before considering coming back again. I returned again a quarter of a century later, this time “πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισα στον δρόμο”, aiming to do my best work with colleagues working in Cyprus.  This turned out to be futile. There was little response for research collaborations from state funded universities and research centers. Even when research was succeeding bureaucratic delays at ministries prevented translation into products and services. The research and innovation system of Cyprus seemed to work under the implicit assumption that only “locally endowed institutions” were research-competent and innovation trustworthy. Disaster was averted by switching the emphasis to my many collaborations abroad and reducing the team-size in Cyprus.  The tremendous effort paid off enough to start expanding The Cyprus team again.


4. How was your experience presenting at RISE? Are there any further areas of collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experience you would like to explore with our organization? 

Presenting and being in the audience at RISE was a pleasant experience, somewhat reminiscent of my time in other places abroad. In my presentation, I had the clear objective of stating honestly and clearly why, with good will on both sides, a real collaboration between my team and RISE will benefit all concerned and particularly the country. In the interest of time, I did not go through the strong theoretical basis of my work, the unique analysis tools my teams developed in the last three decades and the experience gained from holding increasingly leading positions in four big organizations similar in scope to RISE. In terms of content the emphasis in my presentation was placed primarily on explaining why there is so much to be mined in the exceptional neuroimaging data that are now available in my team. I also briefly sketched the excellent prospects for collaboration in developing further some of the recent results from my team’s research and working together to bring prototype products and novel services my team already developed into the international market. Personally, I feel that my most valuable contribution to RISE could come through sharing my experience in four initiative (similar to RISE , except for much higher budgets) two in the UK, and one in Germany and Japan. Some of these failed miserably while others achieved their goals, despite some initial faltering.   

We would like to take this opportunity and thank Professor Andreas Ioannides once more for his time and valuable insight shared and we look forward to collaborating again soon.

1.        Ioannides, A.A., Johnson, R.C.: Propagation of a deuteron in nuclear matter and the spin dependence of the deuteron optical potential. Phys. Rev. C. 17, 1331–1346 (1978). doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.17.1331
2.        Ioannides, A.A., Mackintosh, R.S.: A method for S-matrix to potential inversion at fixed energy: (I). Method description and evaluation. Nucl. Phys. A. 438, 354–383 (1985). doi:10.1016/0375-9474(85)90380-X
3.        Ioannides, A.A., Mackintosh, R.S.: S-Matrix to potential inversion at fixed energy. Nucl. Phys. A. 467, 482–510 (1987). doi:10.1016/0375-9474(87)90541-0
4.        Ioannides, A.A., Bolton, J.P.R., Clarke, J.J.S.: Continuous probabilistic solutions to the biomagnetic inverse problem. Physics (College. Park. Md). 6, 523–542 (1990). doi:10.1088/0266-5611/6/4/005
5.        Taylor, J.G., Ioannides, A.Α., Müller-Gärtner, H.W.: Mathematical analysis of lead field expansions. IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging. 18, 151–163 (1999). doi:10.1109/42.759120
6.        Ribary, U., Ioannides, Α.Α., Singh, K.D., Hasson, R., Bolton, J.P., Lado, F., Mogilner, A., Llinás, R.: Magnetic field tomography of coherent thalamocortical 40-Hz oscillations in humans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 88, 11037–11041 (1991). doi:10.1073/pnas.88.24.11037
7.        Lado, F.A.: coherent Oscillations and the Creation of Functional States in the Motor Areas of the Human Brain, (1993)
8.        Volkmann, J., Joliot, M., Mogilner, A., Ioannides, A.A., Lado, F., Fazzini, E., Ribary, U., Llinas, R.: Central motor loop oscillations in parkinsonian resting tremor revealed by magnetoencephalography. Neurol. Res. 46, 1359–1370 (1996). doi:10.1186/1477-7827-8-95
9.        Ioannides, A.A.: Real time human brain function: observations and inferences from single trial analysis of magnetoencephalographic signals. Clin. Electroencephalogr. NA, 98–111 (2001). doi:None
10.      Ioannides, A.A.: Estimates of Brain Activity using Magnetic Field Tomography and Large Scale Communication within the Brain. In: Ho, M.W., Popp, F.A., and U, W. (eds.) Bioelectrodynamics and Biocommunication. pp. 319–353. World Scientific, Singapore (1994)
11.      Ioannides, A.A.: Magnetoencephalography as a research tool in neuroscience: state of the art. Neuroscientist. 12, 524–544 (2006). doi:10.1177/1073858406293696
12.      Ioannides, A.A.: Dynamic functional connectivity. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 17, 161–170 (2007). doi:10.1016/j.conb.2007.03.008
13.      Ioannides, A.Α., Liu, L., Kostopoulos, G.K.: The Emergence of Spindles and K-Complexes and the Role of the Dorsal Caudal Part of the Anterior Cingulate as the Generator of K-Complexes. Front. Neurosci. 13, 1–21 (2019). doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00814
14.      Ioannides, A.Α., Liu, L., Poghosyan, V., Kostopoulos, G.K.: Using MEG to Understand the Progression of Light Sleep and the Emergence and functional Roles of Spindles and K-complexes. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11, 1–24 (2017). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00313
15.      Ioannides, A.Α.: Neurofeedback and the neural representation of self: lessons from awake state and sleep. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 12, 1–20 (2018). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00142
16.      Ioannides, A.A.: The neural representation of self and neurofeedback and its application to the evaluation efficacy for smoking cessation. In: IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC) (2018)

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