Understanding the interaction between a speaker’s brain and a listener’s brain in the context of real-world communication requires the development of new experimental paradigms. Using function Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), we measured neural signals from two brains (a speaker and a listener) during a complex everyday communication. We then built a simple, interpretable model that leverages the dynamics of fMRI and uses the speaker’s brain responses as a model for predicting the brain responses within the listener. Our model reveals that during successful communication, the speaker and listener’s brains exhibit joint, temporally coupled, response patterns. Such speaker-listener neural coupling vanishes when participants fail to communicate (such as with different languages). The temporal nature of this speaker-listener coupling suggests that an ability to evoke similar brain patterns in another individual via speech may gate our communication abilities. Moreover, while in most areas the listeners’ brain responses mirror the speaker’s responses with a delay, some areas in the listeners’ brain exhibit predictive anticipatory responses. Finally, we found that the extent of the anticipatory neuronal coupling between interlocutors is predictive of communicative success.
Immersion and focus are important for sharing brain states. Getting into "the zone" whether reading, playing sports, music, or video games is a common phenomenon. Read more about the flow zone as it applies to game difficulty here. You should understand this from first hand experience. If you've ever tried to carry on a conversation while playing a real-time action game (or while doing anything engaging and challenging) you know how much focus gameplay takes. The language centers of your brain can be blocked truncating all of your sentences and stunting your vocabulary. Your sense of direction can warped. And your logic impaired. No matter what we do, our minds are limited. So, to boost our cognitive abilities we've developed a range of techniques.
Restricting these actions in turn restricts cognitive ability which is reflected in test results. The truth is our minds and our ability to do complex functions would be pretty poor if it weren't for two things: our ability to process and coordinate different types of stimuli simultaneously and our ability to extend our minds using symbols, language, and other tools. The former deals with mental channels while the latter extended minds.
It's all coming up in parts 4 and 5. Calm your mind and stay with me.