Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Scientific American
Posted: July 17th, 2023
Collective neuroscience, as some practitioners call it, is a rapidly growing field of research. An early, consistent finding is that when people converse or share an experience, their brain waves synchronize. Neurons in corresponding locations of the different brains fire at the same time, creating matching patterns, like dancers moving together. Auditory and visual areas respond to shape, sound and movement in similar ways, whereas higher-order brain areas seem to behave similarly during more challenging tasks such as making meaning out of something seen or heard. The experience of "being on the same wavelength" as another person is real, and it is visible in the activity of the brain. Interbrain synchrony prepares people for interaction and beginning to understand it as a marker of relationships. Given that synchronized experiences are often enjoyable, researchers suspect this phenomenon is beneficial: it helps us interact and may have facilitated the evolution of sociality. This new kind of brain research might also illuminate why we don't always "click" with someone or why social isolation is so harmful to physical and mental health. Preliminary evidence ... shows synchrony between interacting brains and, more intriguingly, that correlations in some brain regions are greater between people while they are telling a joint story than during the independent stories, particularly in the parietal cortex. "That area is active for memory and narrative construction," [neuroscientist Thalia] Wheatley says. "It seems to fit."
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