MAGICS Community Event

Ever wondered what all you could do in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality? How to measure and observe how people respond and interact in virtual and naturalistic contexts? Is it possible to meet virtually, to see, hear, touch and smell, as if the other people were in the same space with you? 

Following the MAGICS kick-off event on 6 October, we launch a series of events for the MAGICS-Aalto community. The first monthly event takes place in the Odeion theatre in Otaniemi (TUAS building, Maarintie 8) on 14 October at 16:00 – 19:00.  

Our purpose is to bring together people from different backgrounds and inspire new encounters and new ideas through high-level speakers and performers, as well as possibility for open and free discussion. 


Speakers / performers 

16.00 Welcome and introductionsMikko Sams, Professor of Neuroscience, Brain and Mind Laboratory Director of MAGICS, Aalto University 

16.15 Professor Francis McGloneTouching & Feeling – Two States/Two Systems


It is now known that some skin nerves send ‘feel good’ signals to the brain when activated by gentle stroking touch, and that this kind of touch may play an all-important role in social brain development – and a great deal more! Research into the sense of touch has focussed mainly on the functional properties of low threshold mechanoreceptors in the finger tips which have been described, in an analogy with vision, as the ‘fovea’ of this sensory modality. Information from these receptors is conveyed to discriminative sensory areas of the brain by fast-conducting myelinated A-β nerve fibres, enabling this information to be processed in ‘real-time’ – an important factor when handling objects or having been touched. However, touch has another function beyond the purely discriminative that we have all become familiar with, thanks to a virus – an affiliative or affective (pleasant) one.

Recent research has discovered a novel class of unmyelinated low threshold mechanosensitive c-fibres in human skin that are hypothesised to be the neurobiological substrate coding for pleasant touch called c-tactile afferents (CT). Over the past 20 years, employing converging methodologies approach, the functional properties of CTs are beginning to emerge. Each technique has provided one further piece of the jigsaw puzzle – microneurography, psychophysics, neuroimaging, behavioural studies, psychopharmacology, rating scales, clinical models, and data from animal models. The emerging picture is still blurred, but some pieces of the puzzle are becoming clearer in terms of the role CTs might be playing in the neurodevelopment of the social brain and lifelong mental health.

17.00 Topi LehtipuuThe Most Meaningful Moment - Mapping the Kernel of Performing Arts

Topi Lehtipuu has interviewed top-level music and theatre makers questioning them: What are your 2-3 most significant artistic moments and why?

17.30 Discussion 

18.00–19.00 Refreshments 

The next MAGICS-Aalto community events will take place on 

  • ***New time*** Thursday 25 November at 18:00 – 20:00, venue Odeion theatre in Otaniemi (TUAS building, Maarintie 8)

  • CANCELLED Thursday 16 December at 16:00 – 19:00 

  • Thursday 20 January at 16:00 - 19:00, venue to be confirmed 

Mikko Sams

Mikko Sams, Professor of Neuroscience, Brain and Mind Laboratory, Aalto University and Director of the MAGICS infrastructure network

Mikko Sams is a professor of cognitive neuroscience in Aalto University and academic leader of MAGICS-Aalto and coordinator of the MAGICS infrastructure. He has studied neural mechanisms of human cognitive functions, from sensory processing to complex cognitive functions and experiences. In his research he is now he is focusing on the measurement of human experiences under naturalistic conditions and developing this research field in MAGICS-Aalto.


Professor Francis McGlone is the head of the Somatosensory & Affective Neuroscience Group at the School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool JM University (, and Professor in Neuroscience at LJMU. He is also Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool. His primary area of academic research is characterising the role of afferent c-fibres in humans, investigating their role in pain, itch (for which an IgNobel prize was awarded!), and more concertedly the functional and affective properties of a novel class of c-fibres - C-tactile afferents – hypothesised to code for the pleasure of intimate touch. Techniques used in this research span single unit recordings with microneurography, psychophysical measurements, functional neuroimaging, behavioural measures, and psychopharmacological approaches to investigate the role of the brain transmitter serotonin in affiliative and social touch.

Topi Lehtipuu

Topi Lehtipuu enjoys a reputation as one of Finland’s most highly individual artists. In addition to a career as a tenor of international renown, Topi enjoys a career as artistic consultant and curator. He was Director of the Helsinki Festival from 2015 to 2018, a wide-ranging and innovative multi-arts festival and a major event in Finland’s cultural year. He was also artistic director of Turku Music Festival from 2010 to 2015, and Joroinen Music Days, a chamber music festival in eastern Finland

As a singer, Topi has appeared in concert halls and opera houses throughout the world. An extremely versatile artist and a highly-skilled stage performer, he is renowned equally for repertoire ranging from early music, through Bach, Mozart and classical composers, to contemporary creations enjoying close relationships with the world's leading conductors and directors.

Photo: © Monica Rittershaus

For more information:

[email protected] 

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