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Putting our heads together: interpersonal neural synchronization as a biological mechanism for shared intentionality

Fishburn, Frank A and Murty, Vishnu P and Hlutkowsky, Christina O and MacGillivray, Caroline E and Bemis, Lisa M and Murphy, Meghan E and Huppert, Theodore J and Perlman, Susan B (2018) Putting our heads together: interpersonal neural synchronization as a biological mechanism for shared intentionality. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13 (8). pp. 841-849. ISSN 1749-5016

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Shared intentionality, or collaborative interactions in which individuals have a shared goal and must coordinate their efforts, is a core component of human interaction. However, the biological bases of shared intentionality and, specifically, the processes by which the brain adjusts to the sharing of common goals, remain largely unknown. Using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), coordination of cerebral hemodynamic activation was found in subject pairs when completing a puzzle together in contrast to a condition in which subjects completed identical but individual puzzles (same intention without shared intentionality). Interpersonal neural coordination was also greater when completing a puzzle together compared to two control conditions including the observation of another pair completing the same puzzle task or watching a movie with a partner (shared experience). Further, permutation testing revealed that the time course of neural activation of one subject predicted that of their partner, but not that of others completing the identical puzzle in different partner sets. Results indicate unique brain-to-brain coupling specific to shared intentionality beyond what has been previously found by investigating the fundamentals of social exchange.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Fishburn, Frank A
Murty, Vishnu P
Hlutkowsky, Christina O
MacGillivray, Caroline E
Bemis, Lisa M
Murphy, Meghan E
Huppert, Theodore J
Perlman, Susan B
Date: 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume: 13
Number: 8
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Page Range: pp. 841-849
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1093/scan/nsy060
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Neuroscience
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS); interagency; intention; pre-frontal cortex; hyperscanning
ISSN: 1749-5016
Official URL:
Funders: National Institutes of Health, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Research Scholarship
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 15:26
Last Modified: 13 May 2020 15:26


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