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Brain-to-brain entrainment...
1Scientific RepoRts | 7: 4190 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-04464-4

Brain-to-brain entrainment: EEG interbrain synchronization while speaking and listeningAlejandro Pérez1, Manuel Carreiras 1,2,3 & Jon Andoni Duñabeitia 1Electroencephalographic hyperscanning was used to investigate interbrain synchronization patterns in dyads of participants interacting through speech. Results show that brain oscillations are synchronized between listener and speaker during oral narratives. This interpersonal synchronization is mediated in part by a lower-level sensory mechanism of speech-to-brain synchronization, but also by the interactive process that takes place in the situation per se. These results demonstrate the existence of brain-to-brain entrainment which is not merely an epiphenomenon of auditory processing, during listening to one speaker. The study highlights the validity of the two-person neuroscience framework for understanding induced brain activity, and suggests that verbal information exchange cannot be fully understood by examining the listener’s or speaker’s brain activity in isolation.Human verbal communication involves an exchange of information between two or more people in order to convey and receive intended meanings through speech, with speech production and speech perception the two constitutive parts of the process. To be eective, communication requires the ability to deliver a verbal message and the capacity to comprehend the message. Speech perception is achieved by coupling between the ongoing rhythmic neural activity of the listener and the quasi-rhythms of the speech signal1–3. is phenomenon is called brain entrainment to speech, and supports native speech intelligibility4–6. Interestingly, entrainment also seems to take place during speech production, as the neural activity of a speaker correlates with the amplitude envelope of the sound of their own utterances7. us, there is a tight relationship between the neural oscillatory activity of the listener and the physical properties of the perceived message, but also between the neural activity of the speaker and the verbal output being produced. In the current study, the question under investigation is whether these eects are independent of each other, or whether the oscillatory patterns of speaker and listener reect a form of mutual dependency.Evidence from prior research indicates that understanding the verbal production of others involves some form of neural coupling not only with the input signal, but also with the speaker’s neural system8, 9, and that elec-troencephalographic (EEG) inter-brain synchronizations are tightly linked to speech synchronizations between interlocutors10. Studies have also shown increased EEG interbrain synchronization associated with eective social coordination11, 12, which is highly relevant because verbal communication is a cooperative process that requires individuals to actively coordinate their thoughts in a dynamic and adaptive way. us, not only does brain oscilla-tory activity entrain to speech, but it probably becomes synchronized between the listener and the speaker due to (i) the shared sensory stimulus (speech signal), and (ii) the verbal communication itself (social interaction). We hypothesize the existence of brain-to-brain entrainment during a communicative scenario based on verbal inter-action. is brain-to-brain entrainment would imply that the neural oscillators from two autonomous human brains interact (expressed via synchronization), while individuals engage in a verbal exchange.is hypothesis was tested in the current study by investigating whether brain-to-brain synchronization appears when two persons exchange verbal narratives (oral narrative, hereafter). We used an experimental set-up which is in line with the two-person neuroscience (2PN) methodological and conceptual framework13. EEG activity was recorded simultaneously from a pair of subjects as they engaged in interchanging verbal information (15 dyads in total). e simultaneous measurement of neural activity from an interacting dyad is a technique known as hyperscanning14. Specically, hyperscanning was performed while one component of the dyad listened to the other’s oral narrative (i.e. listener and speaker roles, respectively) without interpersonal visual contact. Participants alternated between the roles of speaker and listener. is setting can be considered a 1BCBL – Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language, 20009, Donostia, Spain. 2Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, 48011, Bilbao, Spain. 3Departamento de Filología Vasca, EHU/UPV, 48015, Bilbao, Spain. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to A.P. (email: 30 December 2016Accepted: 16 May 2017Published: xx xx xxxxOPEN

Brain-to-brain entrainment: EEG interbrain synchronization while speaking and listening (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Aug 3, 2017].


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