The great helmsman

Lauri Nummenmaa I lead the Human Emotion Systems laboratory at Aalto University and Turku PET centre. Our goal is to unravel the neurochemical and functional mechanisms that guide human social behaviours such as emotions, understanding others’ minds and establishing long-term social bonds. We focus on the brain basis of interpersonal emotions and social cognition, and study naturalistic social interactions under one and two-person settings. We measure brain function with fMRI, PET and MEG but do also behavioural work using e.g. eye tracking. We are currently funded by the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council.


Enrico Glerean
I defended my PhD at Aalto University in 2015 and joined the Human Emotion Systems Laboratory. I am specialising in fMRI signal analysis, brain connectivity and graph theory. I am particularly interested in applying sophisticated data analysis techniques for parsing the neural underpinnings of emotions and social cognition. I also develop web-tools for large scale data collection.


Henry Karlsson
I study the structural and functional effects of obesity to the human brain. We use a multimodal neuroimaging approach with positron emission tomography (PET) and  magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).  By studying brain anatomy and function in both normal-weight individuals and obese patients undergoing weight loss surgery, we try to unravel the mechanisms that predispose to overeating

Matthew Hudson
I work as a postdoctoral researcher interested in the neuro-cognitive mechanisms of social interactions, specifically those involving the perception of social cues, and how we use these to predict and interact with other people. I am currently involved in a series of studies using a 2-person fMRI set up to investigate how cortical activity becomes coordinated between two individuals during real-time social interactions. 

PhD students

Juulia Suvilehto
I am looking into paradigms of social touching over the span of an individual’s social network, using methods borrowed from sociology, psychology, and neuroscience.



sandraSandra Manninen
I am a fourth year medical student and am doing my PhD thesis on the brain basis of social interaction and social bonding. In this project we use in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) for quantifying the role of endogenous opioid system and particualry of mu receptros in establishing long-term social bonds across individuals.


mikkolMikko Lähteenmäki
I am a doctoral student in the Social Brain project at Aalto university. The focus of my project concerns the neural mechanics of emotion transfer and the detection of emotional signals. We employ a multifaceted approach, combining behavioral measures, psychophysical experiments using fMRI and MEG, and naturalistic two-person fMRI to study these topics.

Lara Ejtehadian
I am  working on an pattern recognition analysis of fMRI data. Using multivariate techniques I study neural organization of human emotions and social relationships.


edustuskuva_scaledTomi Karjalainen
My work focuses on the human neurotransmission systems underlying emotion functions as well as the individual differences in emotional responsiveness. Using positron emission tomography we focus on the opioidergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic systems’ role in  human emotionality.



Sofia Volynets
I am working on brain basis of human facial expression recognition using multivariate techniques.

Research assistants

Timo VehviläinenTimo_Vehviläinen_portrait






IMG_5157Anna Anttalainen



Lab alumni

Ville Renvall
After completing his post-doc term in the lab, Ville moved to the media industry and started working at Sanoma Media Group in Finland.