“In Sync” is Not Just a Metaphor Anymore March 20, 2009Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Art and Music, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Philosophy, Science.
Tags: neural synchronicity, theory of mind
Dwight has posted about Denmark, so I guess it’s my turn to post about music! According to the Discover Magazine website,
Two guitarists playing the same melody together don’t just tap their feet to the same beat to stay coordinated: New research shows that their brains sync up, producing brain patterns that are virtually identical. In the study, researchers had pairs of professional guitar players play short melodies together while their neural activity was monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Researchers found that the synchrony kicked in when the lead guitar player marked the tempo and indicated when to begin. As the pair continued playing, their brain waves oscillated in synchrony from the same brain regions. This suggests that the same sets of neurons were at work, and at the same rhythm, in both players [New Scientist].
The study’s implications are profound; not only do we now have evidence of musical activities creating synchronicity in brain waves, it extends to other rhytmic activities, and even to the entire field of sympathetic communication:
In a common sense result, researchers found coordination in the parts of the brain that control motor activity. But they also saw synchronized activity in regions that are linked with “theory of mind” – the recognition that other creatures think and act independently – as well as brain “mirror” systems that enable people to subconsciously mimic the actions and feelings of others. The researchers think these areas may have been activated to increase the bonding and synchrony between the players in the shared task of playing the duet [New Scientist].
So maybe there’s a true physical component when lovers feel “in sync,” when twins and/or friends think of the same things at the same time, and when (imagine this) there is a collective Aha-experience going on in the classroom. Take this further, and you might get the explanation for group hysteria (just watched A Hard Day’s Night, again), as well as collective religious experiences. Now I want to know if all social animals have similar brain synchronizations!