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Building an fNIRS research infrastructure in Denmark for studying human interaction, communication and cognition

New grant from the Carlsberg Foundation


We want to build a function near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) laboratory at the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC). fNIRS is taking off globally as the first noninvasive method that can be used to observe brain processes 1) in real time during social interaction (tolerates movement), 2) in the field during daily life (portable), and 3) to directly compare brain activity between two people or even groups (correlatable). The IMC is an international hub for researchers investigating social processes and an optimal home for fNIRS devices in Denmark.

fNIRS is a noninvasive device that also revolutionizes other limitations of the currently most used brain imaging methods, fMRI and EEG. For example, fMRI is great for identifying where neural activation is occurring but poor at indicating when, due to a conflict between the settings required to record a high-quality signal and the sampling speed. Conversely, EEG is great for identifying when neural activation is occurring but poor at indicating where, because it is dependent on changes in electrical signals distributed across the scalp. Thanks to the very different construction of fNIRS devices, it is able to identify both where and when a signal is occurring, achieving the best of both worlds. This advantage is particularly beneficial for studying social interactions, which change rapidly and dynamically from moment to moment, yielding equally rapid and dynamic neural fluctuations across multiple brain regions. Identifying precisely when these fluctuations occur allow us to pinpoint the social stimuli that evoked the neural response, and knowing where these changes occur allow us to draw inferences about neural architectures related to social interaction.

The Carlsberg Foundation has granted 1.453.352 kr. to build the infrastructure at IMC - read more here (in Danish).


Specialized staff

Daina Crafa completed her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at McGill University, which is a global leader in this research area. She is now an Assistant Professor at the IMC who is specializing in fNIRS and group analyses of brain data using the leading fNIRS Analysis software. Daina Crafa will supervise equipment use and train faculty, staff, and students. She also has strong expertise in EEG and eye tracking, and trainings can extend to cross-device measurements.


Andreas Roepstorff, Professor, Director
Interacting Minds Centre, Dept. of Clinical Medicine and School of Culture and Society