A new methodical approach in neuroscience: assessing inter-personal brain coupling using functional near-infrared imaging (fNIRI) hyperscanning

Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Nov 27:7:813. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00813.


Since the first demonstration of how to simultaneously measure brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on two subjects about 10 years ago, a new paradigm in neuroscience is emerging: measuring brain activity from two or more people simultaneously, termed "hyperscanning". The hyperscanning approach has the potential to reveal inter-personal brain mechanisms underlying interaction-mediated brain-to-brain coupling. These mechanisms are engaged during real social interactions, and cannot be captured using single-subject recordings. In particular, functional near-infrared imaging (fNIRI) hyperscanning is a promising new method, offering a cost-effective, easy to apply and reliable technology to measure inter-personal interactions in a natural context. In this short review we report on fNIRI hyperscanning studies published so far and summarize opportunities and challenges for future studies.

Keywords: brain-to-brain coupling; functional near-infrared imaging; hyperconnectivity; hyperscanning; inter-personal brain activity; social neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Review