neural coupling

Speaker and Listener Brains Sync Up During Conversation

When you listen to someone talking your brain starts working in sync with the speaker. Greg Stephens (2010) put participants in his research  study in an fMRI machine and had them record or listen to recordings of  other people talking. What he found is that as someone is listening to  someone else talk, the brains patterns of the two people start to   couple, or mirror each other. There is a slight delay, which corresponds  to the time it takes for the communication to occur. Several different  brain areas were synced. He compared this with having people listen to  someone talk in a language they did not understand. In that case the   brains do not sync up.

Syncing + anticipation = understanding – In   Stephen’s study, the more the brains were synced up the more the   listener understood the ideas and message from the speaker. And by   watching what parts of the brain were lighting up, Stephens could see   that the parts of the brain that have to do with prediction and   anticipation were active. The more active they were, the more successful  was the communication.

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