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MIB seminar: “Brain to brain coupling in social and artistic interaction”

Exciting talks by Mikko Sams, Juha Lahnakoski and Guido Orgs.

07.10.2016 | Hella Kastbjerg

Dato man 31 okt
Tid 10:00 14:00
Sted Meeting room 5th floor, DNC Building 10G, Aarhus University Hospital, Nørrebrogade


Professor Mikko Sams
Aalto University, Finland

Neurocognition of shared reality

When people share their understanding of reality, they experience that their inner state about some referent target or entity converges with the inner state of one or more others regarding that target. Shared reality is “about something” and requires motivation of sharing. Shared understanding of reality is crucial when predicting other’s behavior during communication, interactions, and joint tasks, and thus reduces miscommunications. Similarity is one important factor, which supports sharing reality. Conversely, dissimilarity due to, e.g., race, ethnic and cultural differences may compromise sharing and lead to intergroup conflicts. To advance understanding neurocognitive mechanisms underlying neural mechanisms, we are using naturalistic stimuli during fMRI. Examples of such stimuli are films and pieces of music. We quantify similarity of brain activity of different subjects by, e.g., calculating voxel-wise correlation of activity in the BOLD signal during the stimulation. We also collect background information of the subjects, and ask them to dynamically evaluate, e.g., emotional valence and arousal of the stimuli. We have found that naturalistic stimuli are excellent in activating the brain, both areas related to sensory processing, but also higher-order cortical areas. We have shown that similarity of the brain activity increases as a function of the similarity in emotional state. Importantly, the more similar are the emotional states, the more similar are corresponding neural states. In my talk, I will discuss our recent findings and current research.

Nummenmaa, L., Glerean, E. R., Viinikainen, M., Jääskeläinen, I. P., Hari, R., & Sams, M. (2012). Emotions promote social interaction by synchronizing brain activity across individuals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(24), 9599–9604. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1206095109.

Saarimäki, H., Gotsopoulos, A., Jääskeläinen, I. P., Lampinen, J., Vuilleumier, P., Hari, R., et al. (2016). Discrete Neural Signatures of Basic Emotions. Cerebral Cortex, 26(6), 2563–2573. http://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhv086.


Dr Juha M. Lahnakoski
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Germany

Brain function in naturalistic conditions – Movies, music and beyond

Traditionally, cognitive neuroscience has relied on a “bottom-up” approach, presenting well-controlled stimuli and manipulating particular aspects of these stimuli to piece together how the brain processes incoming information and makes sense of the surrounding environment. However, using only simplified study designs and an educated guess of possible cognitive faculties that might have neural correlates in the brain may not be the most fruitful way to increase our understanding of how the human brain makes sense of the complex outside world. In particular, social interactions require integration of multiple cues dispersed over space, time and sensory modalities, and studying perception of single cues in isolation may miss important information about how the cues are integrated. Here, I will present a series of recent studies demonstrating various ways to approach natural brain function from the opposite direction, through “top-down” and intermediate experimental designs, using naturalistic stimuli of various types, from movies through spoken narratives to music. These approaches may reveal new information about how the human brain processes the natural world and may help guide more specific, well-controlled experiments in the future. Thus, a fruitful approach for understanding the exceedingly complex functions of the human brain is employing studies of various degrees of complexity, where “bottom-up”, intermediate and “top-down” approaches guide each other.



Lecturer Guido Orgs
Goldsmiths, University of London

The Neuroaesthetics of Choreography

Across all cultures people dance. Yet, existing psychological theories of aesthetic appreciation have largely focused on the visual arts and music. In this talk I will outline a neuro-cognitive model that combines principles from communication and dynamical systems theories with the cognitive neuroscience of action perception to provide a conceptual framework for an aesthetic science of human movement. I will review some recent behavioural and neuroimaging experiments on the psychological and brain mechanisms involved in action and body perception, and behavioural synchronization in groups of people. Human movement is the common denominator of all live performing arts including dance, theatre and music performance. Understanding the appeal of a watching other people move can therefore provide a framework for a neuroaesthetics of the performing arts.

Forskning, Alle grupper, Musicinthebrain, Musicinthebrain, Seminar