Navigation Links
In Conversation, People's Brains Can Mirror Each Other
Date:7/27/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- During a conversation, the brain activity of both listener and speaker may look remarkably similar, especially when the two are really understanding each other, a new study finds.

Researchers asked 11 participants to listen to a recording of a woman recounting an amusing, stream-of-consciousness story about being asked to the senior prom when she was a high school freshman.

Brain scans taken by functional MRIs showed the activity in the listeners' brains looked very similar to the brain activity of the woman who was telling the story, a process the researchers call "neural coupling."

"There is much more commonality between the process of producing speech and comprehending speech than one might have thought," said study author Greg Stephens, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University. "The more coupling there is, the more the speaker and the listener are using similar mechanisms."

Brain scans further showed that in some areas of the brain, "coupling" occurs at the same time the speaker is talking, while in other areas, the coupling lags, Stephens said. Sometimes, brain activity in the listener's brain comes before the activity in the speaker's brain, suggesting the listener may be anticipating what the speaker is going to say.

Such mirror imaging may aid in comprehension, Stephens said. After listening to the story, participants were given a questionnaire measuring how well and how deeply they comprehended the story.

Brain scans of those who scored the best on the comprehension score and seemed to have the most nuanced understanding of the story showed the most complete "neural coupling" with the speaker, possibly hinting at why some people click during conversation and some don't, Stephens said.

"There was a strong correlation between how much of the listener's brain matched the speaker's brain and how well the listener understood the story," Stephens said.

When participants were asked to listen to someone speaking in Russian, a language none of the participants knew, brain scans showed no such "neural coupling."

"If your brain is really similar to mine, I might use my own brain to predict what your brain is doing," Stephens said. "That might be really beneficial for our understanding of each other."

The study is published in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding builds on a prior study by the same team that showed people's brain activity looks alike while watching the same video clips. This new study uses an innovative technical means to see what happens during speech and comprehension, said David Poeppel, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University.

"The fact that the parts of the brain underlying production and comprehension of language are the same is not surprising," Poeppel said. "This study is a really nice verification of the hypothesis that the organization for language in the brain is very robust and uniform across individuals."

Testing what's going on during an actual conversation would be difficult. Not only is it unpredictable what people are going to say, neural processing of speech takes mere milliseconds, while a functional MRI is a much slower, cruder means of measuring changes in blood flow in the brain, Poeppel said.

Paul Sanberg, a professor of neurosurgery and director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida, called the research "interesting."

"This study is potentially very important in understanding how our brain works when we communicate with others, which eventually could lead to future therapies for communication disorders and patients with brain damage," Sanberg said.

More information

The U.S. National Science Foundation has more on how the brain processes language.

SOURCES: Greg Stephens, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; David Poeppel, Ph.D., professor, psychology and neural science, New York University, New York City; Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., professor, neurosurgery, and director, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, University of South Florida, Tampa; July 26-30, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Canadian research team awarded international grant for work on Indigenous peoples health
2. PeopleStreme Collaborates with SkillSoft for Learning Management Content
3. Pro Athletes Brains React at Olympic Speed
4. iPhone Memory Aid for Scatterbrains, Aging Baby Boomers and Busy, Forgetful People
5. MessageSolution First in the Market to Offer All-in-One, Integrated Cloud-Based Archiving for Email, File Systems and SharePoint at Novell BrainShare 2010
6. Scientists Tweak Subjects Brains to Alter Their Moral Choices
7. SharpBrains Launches First Brain Fitness Innovation Awards to Recognize Neuroplasticity Pioneers
8. Morphine May Protect Brains of People With HIV
9. SKyPRO Releases Public Beta of GWTalk at BrainShare
10. Blood flows differently through the brains of schizophrenic patients
11. Adolescent brains biologically wired to engage in risky behavior, study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
In Conversation, People's Brains Can Mirror Each Other
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have ... these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as ... Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to extreme mood ... something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there was a ... children and say he was going to kill them. If we were driving on ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm ... 2016 Legal Elite. The attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition are considered ... Seven Greenberg Traurig Shareholders received special honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® ... American Cancer Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to ... and other adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils ... an essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic ... 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Bay ... Rehabilitation Network,s Dean Center for Tick Borne ... Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of ... Innovation, today announced the five finalists of ... Lyme disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 Research ... "Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" ... In-Mold Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health ... Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical ... structures, replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Dehaier Medical ... the "Company"), which develops, markets and sells medical devices ... , signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan ... "Hongyuan Supply Chain") on June 20, 2016, to develop ... the strategic cooperation agreement, Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: