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Yale neuroscientist to speak May 5 at USM on her exploration of the brain and human interaction

Dr. Joy Hirsch

Cutting edge exploration into the way people communicate -- and how their brains interact -- will be the focus of a lecture by Dr. Joy Hirsch, a neuroscientist with the Yale School of Medicine.

Her talk, titled "When Two Brains Collide," will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 5 at USM's Southworth Planetarium on the Portland Campus.

Hirsch, a professor in the fields of psychiatry, comparative medicine and neuroscience, has pioneered studies of interpersonal interactions between people in natural environments using a novel brain imaging technology called "near infrared spectroscopy." Brain signals are acquired using head-mounted detectors that enable simultaneous, functional imaging of two or more communicating partners.

These technical developments extend conventional neuroscience from investigations of single brains to two brains engaged in natural interactions including eye-to-eye contact, real dialogue, and the communication of emotion. Insights that emerge from this new approach unify interacting brains into single dynamic systems, and establish the foundation for a new theoretical framework for a new "neuroscience of two." This groundbreaking approach blurs the boundary between "self" and others in the context of social connections and interpersonal interactions.

Image of researching the brainProfessor Hirsch is a popular lecturer on the human brain and has published widely on topics related to brain and behavior. Wired magazine, Salon and the Associated Press, among many others, have written about her work.

Her husband, James E. Rothman, is a Nobel laureate, having shared in the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for work in unraveling the mystery of a key cellular process.

Hirsch's lecture is part of Southworth's Planetarium Science Lecture series and is open to the general public. Admission is by donation.

Photo in body courtesy of the Associated Press.