New Scientist is reporting on interesting findings regarding eleven people who were scanned via fMRI so researchers could watch how their brains reacted to a woman telling them a story. What they discovered was pretty damned cool:
The scans showed that the listeners’ brain patterns tracked those of the storyteller almost exactly, though trailed 1 to 3 seconds behind. But in some listeners, brain patterns even preceded those of the storyteller.
“We found that the participants’ brains became intimately coupled during the course of the ‘conversation’, with the responses in the listener’s brain mirroring those in the speaker’s,” says Uri Hasson of Princeton University.
Hasson’s team monitored the strength of this coupling by measuring the extent of the pattern overlap. Listeners with the best overlap were also judged to be the best at retelling the tale. “The more similar our brain patterns during a conversation, the better we understand each other,” Hasson concludes.
I can think of several instances this past month where this kind of bizarro thing happened between the Man and me. He’s asked me to get out of his head on at least two occasions after I finished thoughts for him long before he thought I’d catch onto the point he was trying to make. A couple times it’s been him stating a thought or starting a conversation with me where it feels like he must have yanked the very ideas out of my own brain hours before I planned on starting those convos myself. Sometimes it’s been an action I’ve done that’s surprised the hell out of him because it was something he’d been wanting to have happen and I just randomly accomplished it without much thought or effort invested in the decision to act in the first place.
Bizarro, I say again.
But all kinds of awesome.
Of course, eleven people isn’t much of a sample size, but it’s still a pretty neat study.