Joy Hirsch, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, of Comparative Medicine and of Neuroscience

Research Interests


Research Organizations

Comparative Medicine

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program


Extensive Research Description

Research in the Hirsch Lab at the Yale School of Medicine aims to understand the neural circuitry and fundamental mechanisms of the brain that enable human cognition, language, emotion, decision making, and perception in both healthy/typical individuals and in patients with neurological, developmental, and psychiatric disorders. While ongoing and previous fMRI studies focus on segregated and distributed neural processes within single individuals, the Brain Function Laboratory is also expanding the experimental paradigm from a single-brain frame-of-reference to a multi-brain frame-of-reference using near-infrared spectroscopy, NIRS. The investigation of neural complexes associated with dynamical brain-to-brain/person-to-person communications is largely unexplored. For these investigations, Blood-Oxygen-Level-Dependent, BOLD, signals acquired by NIRS; electroencephalographic, EEG, signals; and eye-tracking data are acquired simultaneously on multiple individuals using surface optodes and electrodes respectively. These neuroimaging measures are synchronized with eye-tracking and physiological measures obtained by head mounted cameras and physiological sensors. Models of dual-brain interactions are based on coherence between wavelets of signals originating from cross-brain pairs of regions. Advances build upon theoretical, technical, and methodological foundations of behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies in the laboratory, and open a novel window-of-opportunity to investigate the neural correlates of dynamic interactions between individuals under natural (ecologically valid) conditions. The Brain Function Laboratory is currently focused on specific studies of dynamic coalitions and neural operations that regulate inter-personal dialog and social interactions including conflict, competition, cooperation, non-verbal communications, music and communication, and the role of mutual gaze and faces in interpersonal interactions. A long-term goal is to understand the neural correlates of dynamic social behavior. The Brain Function Laboratory was established at Yale University in 2013 under the direction of Professor Joy Hirsch following a transition from Director of the fMRI Research Center within the Program for Imaging & Cognitive Sciences (PICS) at Columbia University in New York. The Brain Function Laboratory website is located at

Selected Publications

  • Qiao J, Wang Z, Geronazzo-Alman L, Amsel L, Duarte C, Lee S, Musa G, Long J, He X, Doan T, Hirsch J, Hoven CW. Brain Activity Classifies Adolescents with and without a Familial History of Substance Use Disorders. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015 Apr 22;9:219. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00219. eCollection 2015.
  • Talati, A, Pantazatos, S., Hirsch, J., Schneier, F., A pilot study of gray matter volume changes associated with paroxetine treatment and response in social anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2015 Mar 30;231(3):279-85. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.01.008. Epub 2015 Jan 19.
  • Karten, A., Hirsch, J. Anomalous Neural Deactivations and Functional Connectivity during Receptive Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Functional MRI Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2015 Jun;45(6):1905-14. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2344-y.
  • Rodriguez-Moreno, D., Schiff, N., Hirsch, J., Negative BOLD Signals During Speech Comprehension, Brain Connectivity, 2015. May;5(4):232-44. doi: 10.1089/brain.2014.0272. Epub 2014 Dec 29.
  • Noah, J. A., Ono, Y., Nomoto, Y., Shimada, S., Tachibana, A., Zhang, X., et al. fMRI Validation of fNIRS Measurements During a Naturalistic Task. J. Vis. Exp. (100), e52116, doi:10.3791/52116 (2015).
  • Carnell, S., Benson, L, Pantazatos, S., Hirsch, J., Geliebter, A., Midbrain/VTA activation and functional connectivity in response to multimodal high energy-density food cues in obesity. Obesity, 2014; 22(11):2370-8.
  • Grinband, J., Teichert, T., Ferrera, V., Hirsch, J. Sensory and response interference is resolved locally. Journal of Vision. August 22, 2014, vol. 14 no. 10, article 627. doi:10.1167/14.10.627
  • Kong E, Monje FJ, Hirsch J and Pollak DD: Learning not to fear: neural correlates of learned safety. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Feb;39 (3) :515-27. Epub 2013 Aug 21.
  • Pantazatos SP, Talati A, Schneier FR and Hirsch J: Reduced anterior temporal and hippocampal functional connectivity during face processing discriminates individuals with social anxiety disorder from healthy controls and panic disorder, and increases following treatment. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Jan;39 (2) :425-34. Epub 2013 Aug 20.
  • Hamberger MJ, Habeck CG, Pantazatos SP, Williams AC, Hirsch J., Shared space, separate processes: Neural activation patterns for auditory description and visual object naming in healthy adults. Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Aug 6. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22345.

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Contact Info

Joy Hirsch, PhD
Lab Location
Brain Function Laboratory300 George Street, Ste 902
New Haven, CT 06511
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Mailing Address
300 George Street
Department of Psychiatry

New Haven, CT 06511

Curriculum Vitae

Brain Function Laboratory

Hirsch Lab