The integration of social and neural synchrony: a case for ecologically valid research using MEG neuroimaging

Jonathan Levy*, Kaisu Lankinen, Maria Hakonen, Ruth Feldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


The recent decade has seen a shift from artificial and environmentally deprived experiments in neuroscience to real-life studies on multiple brains in interaction, coordination and synchrony. In these new interpersonal synchrony experiments, there has been a growing trend to employ naturalistic social interactions to evaluate mechanisms underlying synchronous neuronal communication. Here, we emphasize the importance of integrating the assessment of neural synchrony with measurement of nonverbal behavioral synchrony as expressed in various social contexts: relaxed social interactions, planning a joint pleasurable activity, conflict discussion, invocation of trauma, or support giving and assess the integration of neural and behavioral synchrony across developmental stages and psychopathological conditions. We also showcase the advantages of magnetoencephalography neuroimaging as a promising tool for studying interactive neural synchrony and consider the challenge of ecological validity at the expense of experimental rigor. We review recent evidence of rhythmic information flow between brains in interaction and conclude with addressing state-of-the-art developments that may contribute to advance research on brain-to-brain coordination to the next level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number1-2
Early online date7 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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