Hasso-Plattner-InstitutSDG am HPI
Hasso-Plattner-InstitutDSG am HPI

Neurodesign Lecture - Artificial Intelligence and the Neuroscience of Creativity (Wintersemester 2020/2021)

Dozent: Dr. Julia von Thienen , Dr. Shama Rahman

Allgemeine Information

  • Semesterwochenstunden: 2
  • ECTS: 3
  • Benotet: Ja
  • Einschreibefrist: 1.10.-20.11.2020
  • Lehrform: Vorlesung / Projekt
  • Belegungsart: Wahlpflichtmodul
  • Lehrsprache: Englisch

Studiengänge & Module

IT-Systems Engineering MA
  • Kommunikation
  • Design Thinking Advanced
  • Design Thinking Basic
Digital Health MA
Data Engineering MA
Cybersecurity MA


In this course you learn how to design and conduct your own creative project, based on your digital engineering skills and personal engineering passions. Your knowledge and interests will be brought to play in a field that you probably don’t know that well – neuroscience. In fact, neuroscience requires a lot of digital engineering and good engineering solutions have a great potential to open up radially new avenues for research and practice.  

Something that is good to know: This lecture is funded by the Bosch Science Foundation. They are very interested in your ideas for creative neurodesign projects. Based on your presentations in class, one winning project will be awarded funding in the end, so that it can be continued in the realm of a well-supported and fully-paid PhD project later on.  


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The lecture takes place on Mondays, beginning Nov 2, 11 am – 12:30 pm.

You can choose to attend in-person (HPI lecture hall 3) or remotely via Zoom.


For the online access please visit:


Meeting-ID: 688 1420 6433

Kenncode: 20202020


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Neurodesign is a novel field of academic research and practice. It seeks synergies at the intersection of (1) neuroscience, (2) digital engineering and (3) design thinking: creativity · collaboration · innovation. More information about neurodesign is available at our website www.hpi.de/neurodesign.

In the neurodesign lecture, internationally recognized experts on topics such as the neuroscience of creativity, design, collaboration and innovation – as well as creative engineers in the realm of neuroscience – visit the HPI to grant insights into their works and projects. Together we discuss relevant findings, methods and work objectives for creative engineers and design thinkers.

The neurodesign lecture is offered in winter semesters with changing key topics. In 2019/20, great emphasis was placed on neuroscientific collaboration studies. In 2020/21, an overarching topic is the use of Artificial Intelligence in the analysis of neuroscientific data. The lecture is primarily moderated by Dr. Shama Rahman, who has a professional background in the entrepreneurial use of machine learning with EEG data in design thinking application contexts.

In lecture sessions, we have one-hour inspiration talks by guest experts. After the talks, in moderated conversations between the audience and the speaker, we jointly discuss the meaning and implication of the presented material and project ideas that emerge from it.

Your major grading-relevant contribution in this class is your own creative project, which you can pursue alone as well as in teams. Based on your digital engineering skills and interests, you develop your own project – inspired by the input from class lecturers, who can also become your project partners. You have great creative freedom to choose and design a project that is of deep interest to you. You can pursue any objective in the broad area of neurodesign, aka at the intersection of fields i-iii:

(i)                 Your project needs to be an application of digital engineering. Ideally, there is a strong emphasis on the use of Artificial Intelligence, though other digital engineering approaches are also admissible.

(ii)               Your project processes body-related data. Here you can work with parameters captured through mobile phones, emotion-analyses through webcam recordings, neuroscientific EEG / fMRI measurements etc. You can borrow different equipment for the gathering of data if you like (cf. list below) or you can work with data provided by project partners.  

(iii)             Your project bears on design thinking/creativity/collaboration/innovation. This can be the case in several regards. You can facilitate active design thinking, e.g. by means of biofeedback regarding people’s level of flow or stress during design thinking, based on body-parameters. You can also use body-related data for creative purposes, e.g. when you allow users to host live concerts by means artistically sonified EEG-signals. Alternatively, you can simply reflect on your own creative process as you apply digital engineering approaches to body-related data in novel ways.  

 The equipment available to participants includes:

  • Consumer-grade EEG kits: Muse 2
  • BITalinos plugged dual for electromyography (EMG), electrocardiography (ECG), electrodermal activity (EDA), electroencephalography (EEG), to measure motion (accelerometer, ACC), light (LUX) and record button presses (BTN)
  • Empatica E4 wristbands for the measurement of skin conductance, motion & heart rate etc.
  • Tobii Pro Nano for eye tracking
  • Speakers (Yamaha HS8 & audio interface Focusrite), e.g. for 3D data sonification


There are no prerequisites for attending this class. 

To intensify your learnings, you can also take part in the seminar “Data Sonification and Opportunities of Sound” on Mondays (3:15-4:45 p.m.), but this is not obligatory.

It is possible to conduct one bigger project across the neurodesign lecture and the neurodesign data sonification seminar. 


  • 1/4 of your grade is based on your first project presentation.
  • 1/4 of your grade is based on your final project presentation.
  • 1/4 of your grade is based on brief online quizzes that reflect lecture content.
  • 1/4 of your grade is based on a brief project documentation including code (or other digital engineering prototype) due March 31st, 2021.


Dates (preliminary)

2.11.    "Introduction to  NeuroDesign plus 'AI & Neuroscience of Creativity'' - Dr Shama Rahman; Lecturer/Researcher 'NeuroDesign' HPI, CEO ‘NeuroCreate’, artist ; Dr Julia Von Thienen Senior Researcher, HPI

 9.11.    "Fundamental Neuroscience, complexity pattern detection and ambidextrous future of experience" - Dr Shama Rahman

16.11.   "Designing with neuroscience and emerging tech" - Melisa Leñero, translational designer, entrepreneur, senior designer, business strategist; Global Innovation Design

23.11.   "Interdisciplinary science-media art as participatory practice and social impact" - Dr Oliver Gingrich; multidisciplinary artist and Post Doctoral Researcher In Media and Arts Practice, Bournemouth University

30.11.   "Working with Wearable technology and signal processing" - Prof Bert Arnrich, Professor for Digital Health - Connected Healthcare

7.12.    "Brain-Computer/Human-Interfaces (BCI/HCI) Analysis and Design: Past, Present and Future" - Yannick Roy, Cofounder of NeuroTechX & Lecturer (ETS)

14.12.   First Project Presentation

21.12.   "Artifice & Intelligence: Processes, Systems, Emergence and Autonomy in Digital Arts Practice" - Dr Nick Rothwell; composer, performer, software architect, coder and visual artist, Ravensbourne University

4.1.      "Ethics and AI"; Dr John Collins, Advisor UK Digital Catapult Machine Intelligence Ethics Advisory Board

11.1.     "AI and Creativity" - Prof Marcus du Sautoy FRS OBE, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

18.1.    "Characterizing cognitive states associated with creative thinking using network neuroscience and topological data analysis" - Prof Manish Saggar, Director of the Brain Dynamics Lab, Stanford University 

25.1.     "A Social Neuroscience Perspective on How to Train Mind and Heart"; Prof Tania Singer

1.2.       "Some Recent Research in Design Neurocognition" - Prof John Gero, Professor in Computer Science and Architecture at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

8.2.       Final Presentation