Poster E17, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Taking hyperscanning out of the lab: Evidence from EEG recordings on 1400 dyads during face-to-face interaction
Suzanne Dikker1,2, Georgios Michalareas3, Matthias Oostrik, Hasibe Melda Kahraman4,2, Imke Kruitwagen1, Shaista Dhanesar5, Marijn Struiksma1, David Poeppel2,3; 1Utrecht University, 2New York University, 3Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, 4Hunter College, 5Washington University in St. Louis
What does it mean to be ‘on the same wavelength’ with another person? When we feel connected or engaged, are our brains in fact ‘in sync’ in a formal, quantifiable sense? To address this question, we collected EEG and questionnaire data from 2800 participants at eight different sites (museums and galleries). During the experiment, pairs of people interacted face-to-face for 7-10 minutes inside The Mutual Wave Machine, an interactive neurofeedback art/science installation that collects, compares, and visualizes brain-to-brain synchrony between two people in real time (light patterns reflect moving-window correlations between the two EEG signals). The large dataset allowed us to explore the relationship between brain-to-brain synchrony and character/relationship traits as well as emotional states. Findings from 700 EEG recordings, matched for experimental parameters and context, show that pairs with more empathetic personalities (Interpersonal Reactivity Index, Davis 1980) also exhibited higher brain-to-brain synchrony, and the same was true for pairs who felt more connected to each other. Further, brain-to-brain synchrony increased throughout the recording session - but only if dyads were explicitly told that the light patterns they saw reflected their brain-to-brain synchrony, or if pairs reported to be more focused at the end of their session. These findings support an account whereby brain-to-brain synchrony is a possible biomarker for social interaction that increases as a function of joint attention, as measured via factors like empathy, focus, and connectedness. Our interdisciplinary ‘crowdsourcing neuroscience’ approach may provide a promising new avenue to collect rich datasets pertaining to real-life face-to-face interactions.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding