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Can inter-brain synchrony measure human connection? An outside-the-box investigation of Tibetan monks and dancers

Talk by Marieke van Vugt, University of Groningen

2019.06.27 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 24 Sep
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312

Photo: www.sandermartens.com


While laboratory research can tell us many interesting things, there are many situations that are not captured by existing paradigms. In this talk, I will share my experience investigating the practice of monastic debate, a reasoning-based meditation practice that is a core component of life at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. One of the notable features of this practice is that it is a dyadic practice, and for this reason we decided to investigate it using EEG hyperscanning. We observed increases in the synchrony between the brains of the two debaters when they were agreeing with each other compared to what they were disagreeing.

One of the interesting features of debate is that it is not only a challenging mental practice, but it also has a strong physical component. In some sense, it almost looks like a choreography. To disentangle whether the inter-brain synchrony was mainly driven by the mental processes or the movement, we decided to study dancers. The dancers we are working with are not only movement experts but also are able to generate a large spectrum of mental states that explore different facets of human connection. In a tour through the Netherlands, we have been collecting EEG data while the dancers are exploring human connectedness through movement. I will discuss challenges and opportunities involved in this method of data collection.

About the speaker

Marieke van VugtUniversity of Groningen