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Joy Hirsch

Joy Hirsch, PhD

Faculty Member

Center for Neurocognition and Behavior | Center for Neurocomputation and Machine Intelligence


Two-person neuroscience

Humans are profoundly social, and social bonds between us form the scaffolding for organizational structures such as families, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, governments, and global relations. Yet we know very little of the neural mechanisms that underlie these cognitive and interactive processes that are the essence of being human. My laboratory aims to understand the neural underpinnings of live and natural interpersonal interactions using two-person functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), eye tracking, physiological responses, facial recognition, machine learning, EEG, and subjective responses. Our goal is to accelerate a comprehensive understanding of the human mind and how it emerges from the human brain during social interactions.




I am the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, Comparative Medicine, and Neuroscience as well as the Principal Investigator of the Brain Function Laboratory at Yale School of Medicine. I also have a joint appointment as Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at University College London in the UK. My primary research interest is the neural circuitry in the human brain that underlies live social interactions. This "two-person neuroscience" is enabled by advances in imaging technology based on optical imaging using near-infrared spectroscopy. Prior to my recruitment to Yale University, I was the founder and director of the Columbia University Functional Imaging Research Center.