Mental connection: On the same wavelength

When one person talks enthusiastically about something, and another carefully listens to him, an invisible connection arises between them. Princeton neurologists “looked into the heads” of two participants in such a dialogue with the help of a functional magnetic resonance imaging apparatus - fMRI (how it works, read “Brains for Clearance: Color Thoughts”). Having received a picture of changes in blood flow in various parts of the brain, the researchers saw that the listener's brain activity almost completely copies the narrator, lagging by only 1–3 seconds, and sometimes ahead of it.

Moreover, those listeners who demonstrated a more complete “synchronization” with the narrator were subsequently able to retell the story they heard much better. But the story in an unknown language did not cause synchronization of neural activity at all.

The results of the study do not explain the causes of such a relationship. The parts of the brain involved in the interaction are somehow related to speech functions or perception by ear. Dialogue connects two people like a cable through which they “synchronize”. However, the specific functions of the “connected” areas of the brain are not clear.

However, psychologists have long drawn attention to the manifestation of neural "synchronization": people in everyday speech often omit common places, "understandable and so." Moreover, the more such “shortcomings” between people that do not interfere with complete mutual understanding, the closer people feel to each other.

For example, the question “Do you want coffee?” Is reduced to “Coffee?”. And, having received “Yes, two sugars” in response, it is quite possible to guess what exactly the interlocutor had in mind. At the same time, the participants in the dialogue keep in mind the missed lexical constructions, literally “sharing thoughts”.

Researchers have not studied neural synchronization in telephone conversations and video conferencing, but suggest that the most pronounced effect will be observed precisely in face-to-face conversations. In the near future, scientists are planning an experiment with the participation of people partially or completely incapable of verbal communication.

The results are published in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, the "transmission of thoughts" is possible not only through the speech "cable". About how to transfer information from brain to brain, bypassing the usual channels of perception, read - "Transmission of thoughts via the Internet."

According to


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