Getting into sync:Data-driven analyses reveal patterns of neural coupling that distinguish among different social exchanges


In social interactions, each individual's brain drives an action that, in turn, elicits systematic neural responses in their partner that drive a reaction. Consequently, the brain responses of both interactants become temporally contingent upon one another through the actions they generate, and different interaction dynamics will be underpinned by distinct forms of between-brain coupling. In this study, we investigated this by “performing functional magnetic resonance imaging on two individuals simultaneously (dual-fMRI) while they competed or cooperated with one another in a turn-based or concurrent fashion.” To assess whether distinct patterns of neural coupling were associated with these different interactions, we combined two data-driven, model-free analytical techniques: group-independent component analysis and inter-subject correlation. This revealed four distinct patterns of brain responses that were temporally aligned between interactants: one emerged during co-operative exchanges and encompassed brain regions involved in social cognitive processing, such as the temporo-parietal cortex. The other three were associated with competitive exchanges and comprised brain systems implicated in visuo-motor processing and social decision-making, including the cerebellum and anterior cingulate cortex. Interestingly, neural coupling was significantly stronger in concurrent relative to turn-based exchanges. These results demonstrate the utility of data-driven approaches applied to “dual-fMRI” data in elucidating the interpersonal neural processes that give rise to the two-in-one dynamic characterizing social interaction.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. Funding: European Regional Development Fund Project (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16 013/0001775); Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic under the Project CEITEC 2020 (LQ1601); and Czech Science Foundation (GA18-21791S).
Uncontrolled Keywords: co-operation,competition,hyperscanning,inter-subject correlation,interaction structure,neural coupling,social interaction,Anatomy,Radiological and Ultrasound Technology,Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging,Neurology,Clinical Neurology
Publication ISSN: 1097-0193
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2024 07:38
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 15:28
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... .1002/hbm.24861 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-03-01
Published Online Date: 2019-11-15
Accepted Date: 2019-11-01
Authors: Spilakova, B.
Shaw, Daniel Joel (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1139-8301)
Czekóová, Kristína
Marecek, R.
Brazdil, M.



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only


Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial

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