Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering

Brain and Mind Laboratory

We are studying human cognitive, social, and affective functions in health and disorders.
Aalto University/Brain and Mind Laboratory

We use real-life like stimuli, such as movies and narrated stories, during fMRI and MEG/EEG, to engage social cognition and affective processes in experimental subjects. The resulting complex neuroimaging data, complemented by a diversity of behavioral measures, are analyzed by algorithms that we constantly develop as an integral part of our research efforts. We have used machine learning multivariate analysis methods to decode emotional states from brain activity, graph-theory based analysis tools to estimate functional complex sub-networks in neurotypical and high-functioning autistic subjects, and inter-subject similarity measures as model-free analysis approaches to study neural mechanisms of mutual understanding.

Link to the Brain and Mind laboratory website

Recent

Picture: Mareike Bacha-Trams.

Moral reflection can be seen in brain activity and eye movements

Research using films shows that different areas of the brain can be used flexibly as needed

News
Brain

Three brain research projects receive Academy of Finland funding

The three projects examine the long-term effects of premature birth, emotional states within groups, and children's brain activity during language processing. The total sum granted to these Aalto projects is about EUR one million.

News
Kuva: Lasse Lecklin.

New collaboration with researchers in Moscow to study impact of cultural background on brain activity

Iiro Jääskeläinen receives funding from the Russian mega-grant programme to study how cultural background affects thinking and emotions

News
Unconscious bias arrises from in-group favouritism

Brain scans on movie watchers reveal how we judge people

Researchers used brain scans to reveal the biases people feel towards people who are like them, even if they can’t see that they are like them

News
Cold colours indicate higher ISC, more similar brain responses, among the analytical thinkers and warm colours indicate higher ISC among the holistic thinkers. Image: Iiro Jääskeläinen.

Holistic thinkers’ brains have similar responses to drama, while analytical thinkers differ widely

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of people watching the same clip from a dramatic film show that holistic thinkers all have similar brain responses to the scene, whereas analytical thinkers respond differently to each other.

News
Social touching

Brain maps reveal: cuddles with loved ones are universal – but hugging strangers depends on culture

According to a recent doctoral study, cultural differences regarding physical touch between close partners are smaller than was believed. Different cultures are more comfortable with different levels of contact from strangers, and what counts as acceptable physical contact in public spaces changes based on where you are. The brain data also reveals whether the relationship between the person touching and the one being touched is close or not.

News
Feelings are associated with discernible bodily 'fingerprints'.

Bodily sensations give rise to conscious feelings

A Finnish research group from the University of Turku, University of Tampere and Aalto University has mapped the organisation of human conscious feelings and found them to cluster into five major categories: positive emotions, negative emotions, cognitive functions, somatic states, and illnesses.

News
Marked red are the brain regions which process the clue-providing key scenes, both before and while they occur. Anticipatory activity appears on the visual cortex up to eight seconds before the scene begins. During the scenes, there’s fingerprint-like activity in the prefrontal lobe and parietal lobe, both believed to be connected to memory retrieval and reinterpretation of previously seen events.
Memento poster detail (left), (c) Oy Nordisk Film Ab | Image (right): Iiro Jääskeläinen.

Film Memento helped uncover how the brain remembers and interprets events from clues

Key repeating moments in the film give viewers the information they need to understand the storyline. The scenes cause identical reactions in the viewer’s brain. The results deepen our understanding of how the brain functions, how narratives work in film, and memory mechanisms impaired by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

News
An emotional state mainly activates wide, overlapping neural networks. When comparing groups of emotions, positive emotions activate the anterior prefrontal cortex, negative basic emotions tend to activate the somatomotor and subcortical regions, and negative social emotions activate brain areas that process motor and social information. Image: Heini Saarimäki.

Love and fear are visible across the brain instead of being restricted to any brain region

The brain mechanisms of basic emotions such as anger and happiness are fairly similar across people. Differences are greater in social emotions, such as gratitude and contempt.

News
Brain activity for the two tasks of a) deciding to rescue the own sister, a friend, or strangers from a dangerous country in red and b) watching a movie believing to see genetically related sisters in blue.

A film research study shows how the brain reacts to difficult moral issues

The family relationship between film characters clearly affects the reactions in the viewers' brain.

News
(A) Laugher releases endorphins in the brain (B) The more opioid receptors the test subject had, the more likely they were to laugh. Image owned by: Turku PET Centre.

Laughter releases endorphins in the brain

The laughter-induced release of endorphins may be an important mechanism that supports the formation of social networks.

News

Movie research results: Multitasking overloads the brain

The brain works most efficiently when it can focus on a single task for a longer period of time.

News
iiro_jaaskelainen_aalto_sci_photo_by_lasse_lecklin_04_700_400_en_en.jpg

Associate Professor Iiro Jääskeläinen’s brain research uses movies as stimuli

Rapid progress in brain research will bear remarkable impact in the near future.

News
  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!