Speaker Series: Joy Hirsch -- When Two Brains Work as One

  • 10 Jun 2015
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • The East India Club 16 St. James's Square London SW1Y 4LH
  • 5


  • (YCL login required)
  • (YCL login required)

Registration is closed

Joy Hirsch 
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology
Director of the Brain Function Laboratory
Yale School of Medicine

will speak on

"When Two Brains Function as One: A Neuroimaging Investigation of Communication between Individuals"


Wednesday, 10 June 2015
18:30 to 20:30
18:30: Drinks/networking reception
19:00: Talk by Joy Hirsch

The East India Club

16 St. James's Square
London SW1Y 4LH

The East India Club has a dress code of jacket and tie for gentlemen with commensurate formality for ladies, and use of mobile phones is strictly forbidden inside the Club.

Junior Members: £15
Senior Members: £20

Guests: £25


About the Speaker: 

Joy Hirsch is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology at Yale University, and Director of the Brain Function Laboratory at Yale School of Medicine.  She has pioneered many breakthroughs in understanding the relationships between brain, mind, and behaviour, and the translation of these principles to advance basic neuroscience, medical, and legal applications. She is one of the early developers of the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology for brain mapping as well as for understanding principles of brain organization and function. Her current research focuses on understanding the neural foundations for interpersonal interactions and social functions between individuals.  This new research direction includes technical developments necessary to investigate simultaneous neural responses from multiple people.  The novel neuroimaging technology is based on near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and uses light absorption to detect signals associated with neural activity. Professor Hirsch has published over 120 peer reviewed scientific papers and chapters, and is a popular world-wide lecturer on brain function.   She served as a curator for the recent Brain Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the exhibit is currently now on a world tour. Professor Hirsch was awarded the prestigious Gamow Science prize in 2009 for her advances in understanding how the responses of large scale neural systems in the brain contribute to the resolution of conflict with emotional content, and she was selected as one of the five top women scientists featured in the 2011 World Science Festival.

For more information about Professor Joy Hirsch, please see:




About the Talk:

Although social interaction and communication between two or more individuals are fundamental human functions, little is known about the underlying neural dynamics that govern these processes. Conventional neural imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, study one brain at a time under conditions that do not permit talking or real time social interaction. Thus, questions of neural mechanisms specialized for reciprocal social exchanges and verbal communication between humans remain understudied and without an evidence-based theoretical foundation. In order to investigate neural events that underlie human communication we have developed an imaging technology for simultaneous observation of two individuals engaged in real life communication and social interaction.  The technique is based on functional near-infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS, and utilizes brain signals detected by many small “optodes” located on the head using a “cap” worn by each participant.  Synchrony between the signals of the two individuals during alternating epochs of talking and listening is compared across multiple conditions.  In one case, the talking and listening is done without verbal interaction between the participants. This is the “monologue” condition. In another case, the talking and listening is done with interaction between the participants. This is the “dialogue” condition.  These two conditions are designed to the test the hypothesis that brain regions specialized for language transmission and reception will be more coherent between two individuals during “dialogue” (where individuals interact) than during “monologue” (where interaction is minimal). These two conditions are also done when the participants are “face-to-face” and   “face-occluded”, and designed to test the hypothesis that brain regions specialized for interpretation of visual images associated with faces will be more coherent between two individuals during “face-to-face than during “face-occluded” conditions.  

Consistent with these hypotheses, findings reveal increased cross-brain coherence during “dialogue” relative to “monologue” for pairs of brain regions associated with language reception and production, i.e. Wernicke’s and Broca’s Areas, respectively. “Face-to-face” conditions reveal greater synchrony between cross-brain signals than “face-occluded” conditions for a face-receptive region, fusiform gyrus; a language-related interpretation region, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; and Broca’s Area.  These are the first findings of synchronous neural systems between two verbally communicating brains.

Specifically, we show that brain regions with known specializations for language reception (Wernicke’s Area) and language transmission (Broca’s Area) also resonate between two communicating individuals.  Non-verbal (facial) cues are integrated into this dynamic cross-brain language system. Together these findings provide a unifying framework for neural integration of multisensory (auditory and visual) signals that mediate social interaction and communication.  This framework suggests a novel theoretical foundation for the entrainment of neural systems between two brains based on reciprocal and dynamic transmission and reception of  information.

Please note the following dress code for the Athenaeum Club: 

Ladies -  smart separates, elegant dress or business attire. Trousers should be tailored
Gentlemen - business attire or a jacket, collar and tie, with tailored trousers
Casual wear (e.g. leather clothing, denim type material, polo-neck sweaters, tracksuits, t-shirts, shorts, mini-skirts and leggings, training shoes, deck shoes or similar casual footwear) is not permitted.

The East India Club has a strict 'no mobile phones' policy.
  • Home
  • Speaker Series: Joy Hirsch -- When Two Brains Work as One

Copyright © 2011-2015 Yale Club of London | Site MapContact Us

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software