Conversations Can 'couple' Brain Patterns

PRINCETON, N.J., July 27 (UPI) — Some people in conversation with each other truly have a meeting of the minds as their brain patterns fall into step with each other, researchers say.

Scientists at Princeton University in New Jersey performed MRI brain scans of volunteers as they listened to a woman recounting a story and discovered a “coupling” phenomenon, a study published by the National Academy of Sciences said.

The scans showed that the listeners’ brain patterns tracked those of the storyteller almost exactly, though trailing 1 to 3 seconds behind.

“We found that the participants’ brains became intimately coupled during the course of the ‘conversation,’” Princeton’s Uri Hasson said, “with the responses in the listener’s brain mirroring those in the speaker’s.”

Hasson and his colleagues monitored the strength of this “coupling” by measuring the extent of the pattern overlap.

Listeners with the best overlap were judged to be the best at retelling the tale.

“The more similar our brain patterns during a conversation, the better we understand each other,” Hasson said.

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