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

Felix Scholkmann, Lisa Holper, Ursula Wolf and Martin Wolf

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.