Department of Psychology

Dr Michael Banissy

Position held:
Senior Lecturer

+44 (0)20 7078 5140

+44 (0)20 7919 7873

m.banissy (

Room 1-12 Ben Pimlott Building,
Department of Psychology
Goldsmiths, University of London,
New Cross,
SE14 6NW

Office hours:
By appointment

Summary of research

My research broadly fits into two streams: social neuroscience and visual cognition.

Within these streams I work on the following topics:

  • emotion recognition
  • face recognition
  • prosopagnosia
  • synaesthesia
  • interpersonal representation
  • ageing
  • all aspects of non-invasive brain stimulation.

For further details and a full publication list see my lab website at

Public engagement

Work featured in several media sources, eg New Scientist magazine , Scientific American, Reuters, and the BBC. Invited talks given at a number of public events, eg Open City Docs Fest and Wellcome Trust Packed Lunch Series. Articles written for several popular science outlets (eg Scientific American, AEON Magazine).

Academic qualifications


Grants & awards

Enhancing the perception of social facial cues using non-invasive brain stimulation. Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders Grant (2013-2016). £298,656

Mechanisms of self-other discrimination in mirror-touch synaesthesia. BIAL Foundation Research Grant (2013-2015). €44,000

Development of the neural basis of shared touch in human infancy. British Academy Small Grant (Co-Investigator; 2013-2014). £9,295

Social Perception Across the Lifespan. Economic and Social Research Council Seminar Series Grant (2012-2014). £14,760

TDCS studies of face perception. British Academy Small Grant (2012-2014). £10,000

Mirror-touch: Film & Mirror-touch Synaesthesia. Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant (Network Partner; 2012-2014). £58,789

Brain stimulation studies of vocal identity processing. Royal Society Research Grant (2011-2012). £7,700

Neurocognitive mechanisms of synaesthesia: Implications for the role of cross-modal interactions in perception and cognition. British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2013). £248,331

Simulation Processes in Social Cognition. Economic and Social Research Council (2009-2010). £96,298

Research interests

My current research fits broadly into two main areas: 1) neurocognitive mechanisms of social perception and 2) synaesthesia.

Social perception

My research in this area examines the brain basis of our ability to perceive and interpret social signals displayed by others (e.g. emotional expressions, facial identity, voice perception, eye gaze), how these abilities vary between us, and how they change as we age. My lab use a range of techniques including human brain imaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, and neuropsychology (e.g. prosopagnosia studies) to address these questions.


My work on synaesthesia partially overlaps with the work on social perception. Here, I have examined a rare experience in which individuals experience tactile sensations on their own body when simply observing touch/pain to another person. This interpersonal synaesthetic experience, known as mirror-touch synaesthesia, offers insights not only into the condition of synaesthesia, but also into how our brain shapes interpersonal representations between self and other. In addition to this, my lab are also conducting studies examining other variants of synaesthesia including linguistic-colour synaesthesia (where words evoke colour experiences), lexical-gustatory synaesthesia (where words evoke taste experiences), and tone-colour synaesthesia (where listening to music evokes visual experiences).

Selected publications

Number of items: 35.


Romanska, Aleksandra, Rezlescu, Constantin, Susilo, Tirta, Duchaine, Bradley and Banissy, Michael J.. 2015. High-Frequency Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation Enhances Perception of Facial Identity. Cerebral Cortex, ISSN 1047-3211 [Article]

Schaal, Nora K., Banissy, Michael J. and Lange, Kathrin. 2014. The Rhythm Span Task: Comparing Memory Capacity for Musical Rhythms in Musicians and Non-Musicians. Journal of New Music Research, ISSN 0929-8215 [Article]

Di Bernardi Luft, Caroline, Pereda, Ernesto, Banissy, Michael J. and Bhattacharya, Joydeep. 2014. Best of both worlds: promise of combining brain stimulation and brain connectome. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8, pp. 1-15. ISSN 1662-5137 [Article]

Schaal, N K, Krause, V, Lange, K, Banissy, M J, Williamson, V J and Pollok, B. 2014. Pitch Memory in Nonmusicians and Musicians: Revealing Functional Differences Using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. Cerebral Cortex, ISSN 1047-3211 [Article]

Mahayana, Indra T., Banissy, Michael J., Chen, Chiao-Yun, Walsh, Vincent, Juan, Chi-Hung and Muggleton, Neil G.. 2014. Motor empathy is a consequence of misattribution of sensory information in observers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, pp. 1-7. ISSN 1662-5161 [Article]

Cioffi, Maria Cristina, Moore, James W. and Banissy, Michael J. 2014. What can mirror-touch synaesthesia tell us about the sense of agency? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, p. 256. ISSN 1662-5161 [Article]

Holle, Henning, Banissy, Michael J. and Ward, Jamie. 2013. Functional and structural brain differences associated with mirror-touch synaesthesia. NeuroImage, 83, pp. 1041-1050. ISSN 1053-8119 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Tester, Victoria, Muggleton, Neil G., Janik, Agnieszka B., Davenport, Aimee, Franklin, Anna, Walsh, Vincent and Ward, Jamie. 2013. Synesthesia for Color Is Linked to Improved Color Perception but Reduced Motion Perception. Psychological Science, 24(12), pp. 2390-2397. ISSN 0956-7976 [Article]

Schaal, Nora K., Williamson, Victoria J. and Banissy, Michael J.. 2013. Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over the supramarginal gyrus facilitates pitch memory. The European Journal of Neuroscience, 38(10), pp. 3513-3518. ISSN 0953-816X [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Holle, Henning, Cassell, Josephine E., Annett, Lucy, Walsh, Vincent, Spiller, MJ, Tsakanikos, E and Ward, Jamie. 2013. Personality traits in people with synaesthesia: Do synaesthetes have an atypical personality profile. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(7), pp. 828-831. [Article]

Maister, Lara, Banissy, Michael J. and Tsakiris, Manos. 2013. Mirror-touch synaesthesia changes representations of self-identity. Neuropsychologia, 51(5), pp. 802-8. ISSN 1873-3514 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J. and Ward, Jamie. 2013. Mechanisms of self-other representations and vicarious experiences of touch in mirror-touch synesthesia. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, p. 112. ISSN 1662-5161 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J. and Muggleton, Neil G. 2013. Transcranial direct current stimulation in sports training: potential approaches. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, p. 129. ISSN 1662-5161 [Article]

Santiesteban, Idalmis, Banissy, Michael J., Catmur, Caroline and Bird, Geoffrey. 2012. Enhancing Social Ability by Stimulating Right Temporoparietal Junction. Current Biology, 22(23), pp. 2274-2277. ISSN 1879-0445 [Article]

Kanai, Ryota, Bahrami, Bahador, Duchaine, Brad, Janik, Agnieszka, Banissy, Michael J. and Rees, Geraint. 2012. Brain structure links loneliness to social perception. Current biology : CB, 22(20), pp. 1975-9. ISSN 1879-0445 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Stewart, Lauren, Muggleton, N. G., Griffiths, T. D., Walsh, V., Ward, J. and Kanai, R.. 2012. Grapheme-color and tone-color synesthesia is associated with structural brain changes in visual regions implicated in color, form, and motion. Cognitive Neuroscience, 3(1), pp. 29-35. [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Cassell, Josephine E., Fitzpatrick, Sian, Ward, Jamie, Walsh, Vincent X. and Muggleton, Neil G.. 2012. Increased positive and disorganised schizotypy in synaesthetes who experience colour from letters and tones. Cortex: a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 48(8), pp. 1085-1087. ISSN 1973-8102 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Kanai, Ryota, Walsh, Vincent and Rees, Geraint. 2012. Inter-individual differences in empathy are reflected in human brain structure. NeuroImage, 62(3), pp. 2034-2039. [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Walsh, Vincent and Muggleton, Neil G.. 2012. A disruption of colour priming following continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation. Cortex, 48(10), pp. 1359-1361. [Article]

Muggleton, Neil G., Banissy, Michael J. and Walsh, Vincent Z.. 2011. Cognitive neuroscience: feedback for natural visual stimuli. Current biology: CB, 21(8), R282-3. ISSN 1879-0445 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Walsh, Vincent and Muggleton, Neil. 2011. Mirror-touch synaesthesia: A case of faulty self-modelling and insula abnormality. Cognitive Neuroscience, 2(2), pp. 114-115. [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Garrido, Lúcia, Kusnir, Flor, Duchaine, Bradley, Walsh, Vincent and Ward, Jamie. 2011. Superior Facial Expression, But Not Identity Recognition, in Mirror-Touch Synesthesia. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(5), pp. 1820-1824. ISSN 0270-6474 [Article]

Holle, Henning, Banissy, Michael J., Wright, Thomas, Bowling, Natalie and Ward, Jamie. 2011. "That's not a real body": identifying stimulus qualities that modulate synaesthetic experiences of touch. Consciousness and cognition, 20(3), pp. 720-6. ISSN 1090-2376 [Article]

Kanai, Ryota and Banissy, Michael J.. 2010. Are two heads better than one? Scientific American, na. [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Sauter, Disa Anna, Ward, Jamie, Warren, Jane E., Walsh, Vincent and Scott, Sophie K.. 2010. Suppressing sensorimotor activity modulates the discrimination of auditory emotions but not speaker identity. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30(41), pp. 13552-7. ISSN 1529-2401 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Walsh, Vincent and Ward, Jamie. 2009. Enhanced sensory perception in synaesthesia. Experimental Brain Research, 196(4), pp. 565-71. ISSN 0014-4819 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J., Cohen Kadosh, Roi, Maus, Gerrit W., Walsh, Vincent and Ward, Jamie. 2009. Prevalence, characteristics and a neurocognitive model of mirror-touch synaesthesia. Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale, 198(2-3), pp. 261-72. ISSN 1432-1106 [Article]

Banissy, Michael J. and Ward, Jamie. 2008. On being moved: From mirror neurons to empathy. Child And Adolescent Mental Health, 13(1), pp. 50-51. [Article]

Banissy, Michael J. and Ward, Jamie. 2007. Mirror-touch synesthesia is linked with empathy. Nature neuroscience, 10(7), pp. 815-6. ISSN 1097-6256 [Article]

Book Section

Banissy, Michael J.. 2013. Synaesthesia, mirror neurons and mirror-touch. In: E Hubbard and J Simner, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Synaesthesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 584-605. ISBN 978-0-19-960332-9 [Book Section]

Banissy, Michael J. and Muggleton, Neil G.. 2013. Beyond Inhibition: Exploiting the Potential of State-Dependency in Cognitive and Therapeutic TMS Studies. In: L Alba-Ferrara, ed. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Methods, Clinical Uses and Effects on the Brain. USA: Nova Science Publishers, ..-... ISBN 978-1-62618-736-8 [Book Section]

Banissy, Michael J., Annett, Lucy, Asiedu-Offei, Patience, Rosch, Richard and Gurd, Jennifer. 2012. Left, right, hand ‘n space. In: J Dunham and T Davenport, eds. Handedness: Theories, Genetics and Psychology. USA: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 109-122. ISBN 978-1-61470-502-4 [Book Section]

Ward, Jamie, Banissy, Michael J. and Jonas, Clare. 2008. Haptic perception in synaesthesia. In: Martin Grunwald, ed. Human Haptic Perception: Basics and Applications. Basel: Birkhäuser, pp. 258-265. ISBN 3764376112 [Book Section]

Edited Journal

This list was generated on Sat Mar 28 15:50:54 2015 GMT.

Content last modified: 05 Jun 2014

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