Prof Dr Rainer Goebel (R.W.)
Rainer Goebel is driven by the question how the human brain works, how it creates our mind and how gained knowledge can be applied to the benefit of society. He has continuously transformed three fields: brain imaging of perception and cognition, neuroimaging analysis methods, and hemodynamic brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). In order to gain increasingly fine-grained insights on the neural basis of the human mind, he constantly develops new methods and pushes the limits of the achievable spatial resolution using ultra-high field (7 and 9.4 Tesla) fMRI scanners. He uses his gained insights and methodological expertise to develop innovative BCIs. His software enables, for example, letter spelling in motor-impaired patients using only brain activity data and he has established a novel therapeutic approach that enables patients suffering from depression or Parkinson’s disease to treat themselves using feedback of fMRI data from their own brains.
A recent portrait about Rainer Goebel can be found here in English and Dutch:
During his career, Goebel acquired expertise in brain anatomy and function, fMRI scanning and data analysis, fNIRS data analysis, combined EEG/MEG/fMRI modelling, structural and functional connectivity modelling, TMS neuronavigation, neural network modeling, psychophysics and (clinical) brain-computer interfaces. He trained more than 60 PhD students contributing to the early career of many excellent researchers.
Rainer Goebel co-organized several conferences reflecting his expertise in several fields:
2019: Chair of the 4th international real-time functional imaging and neurofeedback conference (rtFIN 2019), > 200 participants, Maastricht, NL (Dec 7-11)
2018: Chair of the public Open Day and Summit of the EU FET Flagship Human Brain Project in Maastricht (Oct 15-18, ca 700 participants)
2015 - today: Member of organizing committee for the biannual conference "Behind and Beyond the Brain" of the BIAL Foundation (Portugese Pharma company)
2008: Chair of The Organization for Human Brain Mapping (supporting organization of conference in Melbourne, Australia, > 1500 participants)
He also developed expertise in industrial innovation and (clinical) application of research results:
- Founder, CEO and chief software developer of company Brain Innovation BV (10+ employees) distributing neuroimaging software such as BrainVoyager, Turbo-BrainVoyager for real-time fMRI applications such as clinical fMRI neurofeedback, Turbo-Satori for fNIRS analysis and TMS Neuronavigator for (f)MRI guided neuronavigation of TMS coils. The developed software strongly influenced and shaped the growth and ubiquity at which neuroimaging is accessible to psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists and medical professionals around the world.
- Awarded ERC 2017 Proof-of-Concept grant (779860) “Reading the mind’s eye at 7 Tesla - A fMRI-based communication brain-computer interface for severely motor-impaired patients” (follow-up of awarded ERC-2010-AdG grant “ColumnarCodeCracking” (269853).
- Dutch NWO-STW funded neurotechnology project “NESTOR - Neuronal Stimulation for Recovery of Function” that develops a visual cortical prosthesis for the blind.
Professional career history
Rainer Goebel studied psychology and computer science in Marburg, Germany (1983-1988). He investigated in his master thesis how students learn to solve recursive programming problems. During his PhD at the Technical University of Braunschweig (1990-1994) he worked on artificial neural network simulations of visual processing under the supervision of Prof. Dirk Vorberg developing a deep large-scale oscillatory network model of scene segmentation, selective attention and shape recognition. He received his PhD (Dr. rer. nat., summa cum laude) in cognitive psychology (major), neurobiology (minor) and computer science (minor). In 1993 he received the Heinz Maier Leibnitz Advancement award in cognitive science sponsored by the German minister of science and education for a publication on the binding problem and in 1994 he received the Heinz Billing award from the Max Planck society for developing a software package ('Neurolator') for the creation and simulation of neural network models.
From 1995-1999 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt/Main in the department of Neurophysiology under Prof. Wolf Singer where he founded the functional neuroimaging group. In 1997/1998 he was a fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced studies ("Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin").
Since January 2000, he is a full professor for cognitive neuroscience in the department of cognitive neuroscience of the faculty of psychology and neuroscience of Maastricht University. He contributed to the formation of the F.C. Donders Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Radboud University Nijmegen, where he was research fellow and member of the Board of Governors from 2001 - 2008. He is the founding director of the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (M-BIC), which celebrated its opening in spring 2005. and the driving force of the ultra-high field imaging center housing 3, 7 and 9.4 Tesla human MRI scanners that was opened by his majesty king Willem Alexander in 2013. From 2008 - 2017 he was team leader of the “Modeling and Neuroimaging” group at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam. From 2005 - 2010 he was member of the board of the faculty as head of research and innovation. From 2006 - 2008 he served as chair of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Since 2016 he heads the department of cognitive neuroscience.
Rainer Goebel received funding for basic and translational neuroscience research including a prestigious Advanced Investigators Grant from the European Research Council (2011 - 2016) and several grants from the Human Brain Project (2014-2023). He also founded the company Brain Innovation BV that produces free and commercial software for neuroimaging data analysis and clinical applications (see brainvoyager.com). In 2014 he has been selected as member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017 he has been selected as member of Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Science.