Neuroscience in the Wild | Workshop 2019 (6 of 6) | Marieke Van Vugt | From Tibetan monks to dancers and back: trying to understand the role of inter-brain synchrony in human connection
MARIEKE VAN VUGT
Neuroscience, University of Groningen, NL
From Tibetan monks to dancers and back: trying to understand the role of inter-brain synchrony in human connection
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.