Project

Hyperscanning

Goal: Exploring interpersonal interactions and emotional responses by using hyperscanning technique

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Maria Elide Vanutelli
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Leadership in organizations consists of a complex process, which includes the interpersonal relationship with collaborators. By using a neuroscientific approach, we evaluated the effect of the presence of unidirectional versus reciprocal feedback (provided only by the leader or by both figures), as well as the assignment of a quantitative or just a qualitative assessment. Skin conductance level and response (SCL and SCR), as well as heart rate (HR), have been recorded during a role playing. Results revealed increased emotional engagement (SCL/SCR) during no rating and reciprocal condition, as well as a stressful response (increased HR) during rating and unidirectional condition.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Background Social behavior and interactions pervasively shape and influence our lives and relationships. Competition, in particular, has become a core topic in social neuroscience since it stresses the relevance and salience of social comparison processes between the inter-agents that are involved in a common task. The majority of studies, however, investigated such kind of social interaction via one-person individual paradigms, thus not taking into account relevant information concerning interdependent participants’ behavioral and neural responses. In the present study, dyads of volunteers participated in a hyperscanning paradigm and competed in a computerized attention task while their electrophysiological (EEG) activity and performance were monitored and recorded. Behavioral data and inter-brain coupling measures based on EEG frequency data were then computed and compared across different experimental conditions: a control condition (individual task, t0), a first competitive condition (pre-feedback condition, t1), and a second competitive condition following a positive reinforcing feedback (post-feedback condition, t2). Results Results showed that during competitive tasks participants’ performance was improved with respect to control condition (reduced response times and error rates), with a further specific improvement after receiving a reinforcing feedback. Concurrently, we observed a reduction of inter-brain functional connectivity (primarily involving bilateral prefrontal areas) for slower EEG frequency bands (delta and theta). Finally, correlation analyses highlighted a significant association between cognitive performance and inter-brain connectivity measures. Conclusions The present results may help identifying specific patterns of behavioral and inter-brain coupling measures associated to competition and processing of social reinforcements.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Previous work showed that, when we interact with other people, an alignment of psychophysiological measures occur as a clue about the intensity of the social interaction. Available evidence highlighted increase autonomic synchrony, known as physiological linkage, during intense dyadic situations, like conflictual conversations within romantic couples, friends, or therapeutic settings. Starting from the idea that higher physiological linkage could support better performance and be correlated with approach attitudes (Behavioral Activation System, BAS), in the present study a conflictual situation was proposed by making subjects compete during an attentional task and stressing the importance to win as a measure of future professional success. Autonomic activity (electrodermal: skin conductance level and response: SCL, SCR; and cardiovascular indices: heart rate: HR) was recorded during the task, where subjects received trial-related feedbacks on their performance, and an average score halfway which (fictitiously) assessed their position in terms of accuracy and reaction times with respect to the opponent. In parallel, behavioral inhibition and activation have been assessed by means of the Behavioral Inhibition/Activation System Questionnaire (BIS/BAS). 32 subjects coupled in 16 dyads were recruited. Intra-subject analyses revealed that, after the general evaluation assessing a winning condition, the behavioral performance improved and the electrodermal response increased. Also, correlational analyses showed a relation between BAS, and specifically BAS reward, with SCR. Inter-subject analyses showed higher synchrony in SCR and HR after the feedback. Such results confirm the increased synchronic effect after a highly conflictual condition, and the presence of a relation between subjective performance, approach-related motivations, and physiological linkage.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
The neurophysiological basis of social ranking perception underlying the execution of cooperative joint-actions was explored in the present study. Self-perception of social ranking, personality trait (Behavioral Activation System (BAS) and locus of control (LoC)) and alpha brain oscillations were considered. Subjects were required to match their cognitive performance in terms of accuracy (error rate) and response time. A positive feedback condition of a better joint-performance was provided and compared to absence of feedback. It was found that higher BAS participants and higher internal LoC responded in greater measure to post-feedback condition with better real performance probably based on their sensitivity to rewarding for high-BAS and the increased sense of self-efficacy. Moreover, higher-BAS showed an increased frontal left activity when they perceived increased cooperative efficacy. The present results confirmed the tendency to modulate both self-perceived social position and real performance based on the personal attitudes and the frontal.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Cooperation behavior is a core question of study on social neuroscience. In the present study, inter-brain functional connectivity and cognitive performance were considered during joint which was failing. The cognitive performance and the EEG (brain oscillations from delta to beta) underlying the execution of joint-actions were recorded when dyads of participants executed synchronicity game and received reinforcing negative feedbacks A pre-feedback condition (cooperation) and a control condition (individual task, T0) were provided as well as a check for possible learning effect (time series analysis). Finally, correlation analysis was considered to assess the relation between behavioral and physiological levels. Results showed that the external feedback was able to modulate participants' responses in both behavioral and neural components with increased RTs and ERs after the negative reinforcement. Similarly, a reduced inter-brain connectivity was found, mainly localized within the superior frontal regions, and for low-frequency bands (delta and theta). In contrast pre-feedback condition showed the best performance in terms of both behavioral and brain-to-brain coupling activity. Moreover, the presence of significant correlations between RTs and inter-brain connectivity revealed that the failing cooperation induces significant negative effects on the cognitive and brain strategy in comparison with cooperative (pre-feedback) and individual (control) condition. The present study provides significant contribution to the identification of patterns of cognitive behavior and functional connectivity when social reinforcement is provided within dyads of participants by using a hyperscanning approach.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Functional connectivity during cooperative actions is an important topic in social neuroscience that has yet to be answered. Here, we examined the effects of administration of (fictitious) negative social feedback in relation to cooperative capabilities. Cognitive performance and neural activation underlying the execution of joint actions was recorded with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) on prefrontal regions during a task where pairs of participants received negative feedback after their joint action. Performance (error rates (ERs) and response times (RTs)) and intra- and inter-brain connectivity indices were computed, along with the ConIndex (inter-brain/intra-brain connectivity). Finally, correlational measures were considered to assess the relation between these different measures. Results showed that the negative feedback was able to modulate participants' responses for both behavioral and neural components. Cognitive performance was decreased after the feedback. Moreover, decreased inter-brain connectivity and increased intra-brain connectivity was induced by the feedback, whereas the cooperative task pre-feedback condition was able to increase the brain-to-brain coupling, mainly localized within the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Finally, the presence of significant correlations between RTs and inter-brain connectivity revealed that ineffective joint action produces the worst cognitive performance and a more 'individual strategy' for brain activity, limiting the inter-brain connectivity. The present study provides a significant contribution to the identification of patterns of intra- and inter-brain functional connectivity when negative social reinforcement is provided in relation to cooperative actions.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Introduction The neural activity in response to ineffective joint actions was explored in the present study. Subjects involved in a cooperative but frustrating task (poor performance as manipulated by an external feedback) were required to cooperate (T1) during an attentional task in a way to synchronize their responses and obtain better outcomes. Methods We manipulated their strategies by providing false feedbacks (T2) signaling the incapacity to create a synergy, which was reinforced by a general negative evaluation halfway through the game. A control condition was provided (no cooperation required, T0) as well as a check for possible learning effect (time series analysis). The effects of the feedback in modulating subjects' behavioral performance and electrocortical activity were explored by means of brain oscillations (delta, theta, alpha, beta) and autonomic activity (heart rate, HR; skin conductance activity, SCR). Results Results showed a specific pattern of behavioral, neural, and peripheral responses after the social feedback. In fact, within this condition, worse behavioral outcomes emerged, with longer response times with respect to the prefeedback one. In parallel, a specific right‐lateralized effect was observed over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), with increased delta and theta power compared to the previous condition. Moreover, increased SCR was observed with respect to the first part. Conclusions Two interpretations are put forward to explain the present findings: 1) the contribution of negative emotions in response to failing interactions or 2) a motivational disengagement toward goal‐oriented cooperation elicited by frustrating evaluations.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Previous research highlighted that during social interactions people shape each other’s emotional states by resonance mechanisms and synchronized autonomic patterns. Starting from the idea that joint actions create shared emotional experiences, in the present study a social bond was experimentally induced by making subjects cooperate with each other. Participants’ autonomic system activity (electrodermal: skin conductance level and response: SCL, SCR; cardiovascular indices: heart rate: HR) was continuously monitored during an attentional couple game. The cooperative motivation was induced by presenting feedback which reinforced the positive outcomes of the intersubjective exchange. 24 participants coupled in 12 dyads were recruited. Intrasubject analyses revealed higher HR in the first part of the task, connoted by increased cognitive demand and arousing social dynamic, while intersubject analysis showed increased synchrony in electrodermal activity after the feedback. Such results encourage the use of hyperscanning techniques to assess emotional coupling in ecological and real-time paradigms.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Inter-brain synchronization during joint actions is a core question in social neuroscience, and the differential contribution of intra- and inter-brain functional connectivity has yet to be clarified along with the role of psychological variables such as perceived self-efficacy. The cognitive performance and the neural activation underlying the execution of joint actions were recorded by functional Near-Infrared imaging during a synchronicity game. An 8-channel array of optodes was positioned over the frontal and prefrontal regions. During the task, the dyads received reinforcing feedback that was experimentally manipulated to induce adoption of common strategies. Intra- and inter-brain connectivity indices were computed along with an inter-brain/intra-brain connectivity index (ConIndex). Finally, correlation analyses were run to assess the relationship between behavioral and physiological levels. The results showed that the external feedback could modulate participant responses in both behavioral and neural components. After the reinforcing manipulation, there were faster response times and increased inter-brain connectivity, and ConIndex emerged primarily over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Additionally, the presence of significant correlations between response times and inter-brain connectivity revealed that only the “two-players connection” may guarantee an efficient performance. The present study provides a significant contribution to the identification of intra- and inter-brain functional connectivity when social reinforcement is provided.
Laura Gatti
added a research item
Cooperation represents a main component of our social life. In previous studies it was found that cooperative tasks are often able to improve the subjective performance and that they simultaneously contribute to modify the self-perception of social ranking position. From a neurophysiological perspective, it was found the relevant contribution of prefrontal neural areas in the case of a cooperative task specifically limbic regions and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). In addition it was found that dorsal (DLPFC) and ventral (VLPFC) portions of the lateral prefrontal cortex are generally recruited during social status inference. Studies that directly compared the effects of positive external feedback on cooperative joint actions in the case of an interpersonal performance are now numerous. Nevertheless, at present, no specific study directly and deeply explored the influence of a negative feedback on performance and brain responsiveness simultaneously in inter-agents.
Davide Crivelli
added a research item
Concepts and techniques developed to investigate complex systems have found practical implications in the study of many complex physical, biological, and social phenomena. Social neuroscience is coherently moving to new investigation and analysis approaches to properly explore social dynamics and to qualify neural processes that mediate and define them. The present paper aims to sketch a global picture of the application of the concept of synchronization to study complex social systems and the neural signatures of interpersonal coupling during interaction dynamics. We then focus on an innovative experimental paradigm-hyperscanning-that allows researchers to sample, compare, and integrate information flows related to the bodily activities of two (or more) individuals involved in a shared naturalistic or experimentally-controlled task, thus giving the opportunity to explore inter-individual synchronization and inter-brain coupling. In particular, the potential of functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) as a primary investigation tool in the field is discussed. Finally, we introduce the most-used quantification and analysis methods for hyperscanning applications.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added 2 research items
Background Cooperation and competition were compared in the present study. Brain correlates (electroencephalography, EEG frequency band, delta, theta, alpha, and beta) and hemodynamic measure of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS, O2Hb) were acquired during a joined cooperative (Experiment 1) or competitive (Experiment 2) task. Subjects were required to match each other’s cognitive performance (cooperation) or to make better than others (competition) in terms of accuracy (error rate, ER) and response time (RT). In addition, a personality trait measure (behavioral activation system, BAS) was used to distinguish subjects based on their rewarding attitude. Self-perception of social ranking and real performance were considered in response to subjects’ performance (that was artificially manipulated to show an increasing or decreasing profile during the task). Results An increased left prefrontal cortical (PFC) responsiveness was found for subjects who had higher BAS rating in case of both cooperation and competition conditions. Moreover, subjects with higher BAS ratings showed greater frontal left activity during the cooperative task. These subjects also concomitantly perceived an increasing in social ranking and improved their performance. Conclusions Present results demonstrated that some trait components (BAS) and cooperative condition induce a positive self-representation in term of ranking and a best way to perform the task, as underlined by self-perception and cognitive outcomes. Indeed the higher BAS trait proved to be related with the representation of higher social ranking and with the perception of improved cognitive outcomes, with also a significant increased left PFC activity in cooperative contexts.
Cooperation and competition, as two common and opposite examples of interpersonal dynamics, are thought to be reflected by different cognitive, neural, and behavioral patterns. According to the conventional approach, they have been explored by measuring subjects' reactions during individual performance or turn-based interactions in artificial settings, that don't allow on-line, ecological enactment of real-life social exchange. Considering the importance of these factors, and accounting for the complexity of such phenomena, the hyperscanning approach emerged as a multi-subject paradigm since it allows the simultaneous recording of the brain activity from multiple participants interacting. In this view, the present paper aimed at reviewing the most significant work about cooperation and competition by EEG hyperscanning technique, which proved to be a promising tool in capturing the sudden course of social interactions. In detail, the review will consider and group different experimental tasks that have been developed so far: (1) paradigms that used rhythm, music and motor synchronization; (2) card tasks taken from the Game Theory; (3) computerized tasks; and (4) possible real-life applications. Finally, although highlighting the potential contribution of such approach, some important limitations about these paradigms will be elucidated, with a specific focus on the emotional domain.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
This abstract describe the effect of negative feedback on performance and brain activation using an hyperscanning paradigm during a cooperative joint task.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a research item
Purpose: Human life is connoted by sophisticated interactions that involve not only single individuals, but larger social groups composed by members interacting each other. Cooperation secures a benefit to all the people engaged as well as important behaviors like helping, sharing, and acting prosocially. But what happens when the joint actions are not effective? Materials and method: In the present study, we asked 24 participants paired in 12 dyads to cooperate during an attentional task in a way to synchronize their responses and obtain better outcomes. In addition we tested inter-brain and cognitive strategy similarities between subjects. Then, we frustrated their strategies by providing false feedbacks signalling the incapacity to create a synergy, which was reinforced by a general negative evaluation halfway through the task. The effects of the feedback inmodulating subjects behavioural performance and brain responsiveness were explored by means of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Results: Results showed a worsen performance after the negative feedback in the form of longer reaction times and a specifc pattern of brain activation involving th dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the superior frontal gyrus. The DLPFC showed increased O2Hb (oxy-haemoglobin) level after the feedback, compatible with the need for higher cognitive effort. In addition, fNIRS measures revealed a decreased inter-brain synchronicity in post-feedback condition for the dyad. Also, the representation of negative emotions in response to failing interactions was signalled by a right-lateralized effect. Conclusions: Results were interpreted at light of available knowledge on perceived self-efficacy and the implementation of common goals and strategies.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added 6 research items
In the present study, the social ranking perception in competition was explored. Brain response (alpha band oscillations, EEG; hemodynamic activity, O2Hb), as well as self-perception of social ranking, cognitive performance, and personality trait (Behavioral Activation System, BAS) were considered during a competitive joint-action. Subjects were required to develop a strategy to obtain a better outcome than a competitor (C) (in term of error rate, and response time, RT). A pre-feedback (without a specific feedback on the performance) and a post-feedback condition (which reinforced the improved performance) were provided. It was found that higher-BAS participants responded in greater measure to perceived higher cognitive performance (post-feedback condition), with increased left prefrontal activity, higher ranking perception, and a better real performance (reduced RTs). These results were explained in term of increased sense of self-efficacy and social position, probably based on higher-BAS sensitivity to reinforcing conditions. In addition, the hemispheric effect in favor of the left side characterized the competitive behavior, showing an imbalance for high-BAS in comparison to low-BAS in the case of a rewarding (post-feedback) context. Therefore, the present results confirmed the significance of BAS in modulating brain responsiveness, self-perceived social position, and real performance during an interpersonal competitive action which is considered highly relevant for social status.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the neural bases of cooperative behaviors and social self-perception underlying the execution of joint actions by using a hyperscanning brain paradigm with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We firstly found that an artificial positive feedback on the cognitive performance was able to affect the self-perception of social position and hierarchy (higher social ranking) for the dyad, as well as the cognitive performance (decreased error rate, ER, and response times, RTs). In addition, the shared cognitive strategy was concurrently improved within the dyad after this social reinforcing. Secondly, fNIRS measures revealed an increased brain activity in the postfeedback condition for the dyad. Moreover, an interbrain similarity was found for the dyads during the task, with higher coherent prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity for the interagents in the postfeedback condition. Finally, a significant prefrontal brain lateralization effect was revealed, with the left hemisphere being more engaged during the postfeedback condition. To summarize, the self-perception, the cognitive performance, and the shared brain activity were all reinforced by the social feedback within the dyad.
Neuromanagement deals with neuroscience methodological approaches to the management. A management construct is leadership, but objective psychophysiological data in support of it are still missing. The present pilot study aimed to apply the hyperscanning paradigm during a role-played employees' evaluation. Our purpose was to identify lexical and neuro/psychophysiological markers of leader-employee interactions. The sample consisted in paired manager-collaborator couples. Managers were required to use two different communication styles: authoritative vs. cooperative. A conversational analysis permitted to identify main topics to interpret data. Results showed that the interview was more arousing for the employee than the manager. Greater Delta and Theta EEG bands could denote positive valence of personal interactions and company mission topics. Autonomic measures (Skin Conductance Response, SCR and Heart Rate, HR) showed important information related to different leadership style. Results highlight the importance of applying neurosciences to organizational contexts exploring processes related to manager-employee dynamics and communicative style.
Maria Elide Vanutelli
added a project goal
Exploring interpersonal interactions and emotional responses by using hyperscanning technique