Blog Index
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We integrate approaches from cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology in order to address the following research themes:

Social Perception

Our work on social perception aims to examine the brain basis of our ability to perceive and interpret social signals (e.g. emotional expressions, facial identity, voice perception, eye gaze, trait judgements), how these abilities vary between us, and how they change as we age. We use a range of techniques including human brain imaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, and neuropsychology to address these questions. We also work closely with groups that have difficulties with social perception (e.g. prosopagnosia and alexithymia) and are part of the Trouble With Faces group ( In this context, we are seeking to use our understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to social perception abilities in order to develop potential tools to improve the perception of social signals in individuals in which these abilities are impaired. If you’d be interested in finding out more about our social perception projects or in taking part please contact us (

Example Publications:

Romanska, A., Rezlescu, C.,  Susilo, T., Duchaine, B., & Banissy, M.J. (2015)  High frequency transcranial random noise stimulation enhances perception of facial identity. Cerebral Cortex, 25, 4334-4440. [PDF]

Janik, A., Rezlescu, C., & Banissy, M. J. (2015). Enhancing anger perception with transcranial alternating current stimulation induced gamma oscillations. Brain Stimulation, 8, 1138-1143. [PDF].

Rezlescu, C., Penton, T., Walsh, V., Tsujimura, H, Scott, S., & Banissy, M.J. (2015). Dominant voices and attractive faces: How voice impressions combine with face impressions to form an integrated person perception. Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour, 39, 355-370. [PDF].

Kanai, R., et al. (2012).  Brain structure links loneliness to social perception. Current Biology, 22 (20), 1975-1979. [PDF]

Banissy, M. J., et al. (2011). Superior facial expression, but not identity recognition, in mirror-touch synaesthesia. Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 1820-1824. [PDF].

Banissy, M. J., et al. (2010). Suppressing sensorimotor activity modulates the discrimination of auditory emotions but not speaker identity. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 13552-13557. [PDF].

Social Cognition

To develop and maintain the long-lasting social relationships, people must not only be able to perceive social cues, but also to differentiate their own thoughts and feelings from those of their interaction partners. Our work on social cognition aims to examine the neurocognitive mechanisms that contribute to this process. To do so, we study the neural and psychological mechanisms that contribute to our ability to experience empathy, to distinguish between oneself and another person, and to control representations of the self or other in order to support social interaction. We study these processes throughout the lifespan (from infants through to older adults) and are interested in how inter-individual variability in these skills are related to differences in brain structure and function. We also work closely with a rare group of individuals whom experience tactile sensations on their own body when simply observing touch/pain to another person (mirror-touch sensations), in order to a) understand the mechanisms that contribute to this rare experience and b) use mirror-touch as a model to inform us about mechanisms of interpersonal representation in us all.  If you’d be interested in finding out more about our social cognition projects or in taking part please contact us ( and / or

Example Publications:

Cioffi, M.C., et al. (2016). ‘Am I moving?’ An illusion of  agency and ownership in mirror-touch synaesthesia. Cognition, 146, 426-430.

Santiesteban, I., Bird, G., Tew, O., Cioffi, M., & Banissy, M.J. (2015). Mirror-touch synaesthesia: Difficulties inhibiting the other. Cortex, 71, 116-121. [PDF].

Ward, J., & Banissy, M.J. (2015). Explaining mirror-touch synaesthesia. Cognitive Neuroscience, 6, 118-133.

Sowden, S., Wright, G., Banissy, M.J., Catmur, C., & Bird, G. (2015). Transcranial current stimulation of temporoparietal junction improves truth and lie detection. Current Biology, 25, 2447-2451. [PDF].

Banissy, M.J., et al. (2012). Inter-individual differences in empathy are reflected in human brain structure. NeuroImage, 62, 2034-2039. [PDF].

Santiesteban, I, et al. (2012). Enhancing Social Ability by Stimulating Right Temporoparietal Junction. Current Biology, 22 (23), 2274-2277. [PDF].

Banissy, M. J., & Ward, J. (2007).  Mirror-touch synaesthesia is linked with empathy. Nature Neuroscience, 10, 815-816. [PDF].



Synaesthesia is a rare condition in which sensory information is blended. For example, in lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, hearing words evokes sensations of tastes. Our lab are interested in understanding what processes give rise to synaesthesia, whether synaesthetes show broader differences in perception and psychological abilities (e.g. creativity) that extend beyond their synaesthesia, and what synaesthesia can tell us about how we all perceive the world. If you’d be interested in finding out more about our synaesthesia projects or in taking part please contact us ( and / or

Example Publications:

Menouti, K., et al. (2015). Timbre-colour synaesthesia: Exploring the consistency of associations based on timbre. Cortex, 63, 1-2.

Banissy, M. J., et al. (2013). Synaesthesia for colour is linked to improved colour perception, but reduced motion perception. Psychological Science, 24, 2390-2397. [PDF].

Banissy, M.J., et al. (2013). Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: Do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 54, Issue 7, 828-831. [PDF].

Banissy, M. J., et al. (2012). Increased positive and disorganised, but not negative, schizotypy in synaesthetes who experience colour from letters and tones. Cortex, 48, 1085-1087. [PDF].


Applied Cognition

In addition to the applied aspects of our social perception and social cognition work (e.g. where we are seeking to develop approaches to improve these skills), we also have research interests in a range of other areas related to applied cognition and non-invasive brain stimulation. We are part of the Creativity Enhancement Through Advanced Brain Mapping and Stimulation (CREAM) project, involving industrial and academic partners throughout Europe. That project seeks to use brain imaging and brain stimulation to determine the neurocognitive mechanisms that contribute to creativity and to use this knowledge to help creativity in the workplace. Additionally, we are examining the impact of transcranial current stimulation on mood in typical aging, with a view to determining the potential efficacy of transcranial electric stimulation as a treatment tool in late-life depression.    If you’d be interested in finding out more about these projects or taking part in our research please contact us ( and / or

Example Publications:

Schaal, N.K., et al. (2015). Pitch Memory in non-musicians and musicians: Revealing functional differences using transcranial direct current stimulation. Cereb Cortex, 25, 2774-2782. [PDF].

Di Bernardi Luft, C., et al. (2014). Best of both worlds: Promise of combining brain stimulation and brain connectome. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8:132. [PDF].

Tsujimura, H., & Banissy, M.J. (2013). Human face structure correlates with professional baseball performance: insights from professional Japanese baseball players. Biology Letters, 9, 20130140. [PDF].

Banissy, M.J., & Muggleton, N. G. (2013). Transcranial direct current stimulation in sports training: Potential approaches. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:129. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00129 [PDF].