Toward Interactive Social Neuroscience: Neuroimaging Real-World Interactions in Various Populations

Yasuyo Minagawa, Mingdi Xu, Satoshi Morimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Human social activity is a continuous dynamic behavior consisting of live social signal exchanges; thus, studying interactions among multiple humans is critical to understanding social cognition. Indeed, social neuroscience focusing on such aspects—interactive social neuroscience—is an emerging field of interest. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) has played a significant role in accelerating this field by enabling real-world neuroimaging for various populations. The present paper will first review previous hyperscanning studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and electroencephalography (EEG). We will then summarize attempts and findings of fNIRS hyperscanning studies on social interaction in adult populations. Finally, we will review recent investigations of interactive social neuroscience in young populations and show preliminary results from a mother–infant hyperscanning study. These studies have predominantly revealed synchronized brain activities between humans and have identified conditions in which such inter-personal connectivity was found to be increased. Furthermore, these studies suggest possible mechanisms of inter-brain coupling: a process that recruits both mirror system and mentalization networks. Although fNIRS hyperscanning of infants remains limited, the reviewed literature demonstrates significant potential for fNIRS to disclose the interactive social brain and its development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-224
Number of pages29
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct


  • entrainment
  • functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • hyperscanning
  • social neuroscience
  • synchronization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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