Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Synchrony of Brains and Bodies

Riitta Hari and colleagues have a new and short piece in Trends in Cognitive Sciences entitled "Synchrony of brains and bodies during implicit interpersonal interaction".   It summarises a behavioral and EEG study [1] that looked at coordination within and across subjects.  The task is a simple mirroring task in which participants point in synchrony within a small area.  Interestingly, in the EEG data, they found
"intersubject behavioral synchronization (that was increased after the training task) was associated with increased inter-brain, but not intra-brain, phase locking in the theta (4–7.5 Hz) and beta (12–30 Hz) bands."

This adds to the growing number of studies in the red hot emerging field of social neuroscience that looks at brains in real-time social interaction.  A lengthy position paper by Schilbach, called "Towards a Second Person Neuroscience" will appear shortly in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. You can read it here.  The Hari paper provides other references. Uri Hasson has done some particularly interesting work in this area.  As methods for the simultaneous imaging of multiple subjects become more widespread, expect this field to explode.

The above image comes from a review of hyperscanning methods within social neuroscience.


[1] K. Yun et al. Interpersonal body and neural synchronization as a marker of implicit social interaction. Sci. Rep., 2 (2012), p. 959


  1. The Schilbach paper is great, and I think the area of social cognition is going to yield some very interesting discussions! As we have all experienced, an emotionally engaging interaction is more than the sum of its parts; the "buzz" of conversation and debate. However what strikes me is how forced and stilted the experimental set-ups seem to be. And although the emphasis on neural circuity is fascinating, the authors appear to uncritically assume a "shared intention" which ignores all manner of deception and hidden agendas which surely need to be explored...

  2. By the way was unable to access the Riitta Hari piece - do you have a pdf of it by any chance?