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When brains dialogue by synchronized or unsynchronized languages. Hyperscanning applications to neuromanagement

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Abstract

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.

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... Considering the complexity of such social dynamics, and the presence of mechanisms related to emotions, goals, intentions, expectations, and cognitive bias, recent research in the field has increasingly embodied a neuroscientific approach (Paulus et al., 2009). Indeed, social and affective neuroscience strives to develop and apply methods that reveal a broader and more in-depth understanding of the way people interact with each other, including empathic and emotional mechanisms (Balconi & Canavesio, 2013;Venturella, Gatti, Vanutelli, & Balconi, 2017). A leading example of what has been called a "second person" social neuroscience (Schilbach, 2010) is the hyperscanning technique, a realistic and ecological paradigm which allows simultaneous recording of the cortical activity from two or more participants interacting together (Balconi, Gatti, & Vanutelli, 2018b;Montague, 2002). ...
... It has been proposed that this mutual adaptation can generate an alignment at the behavioral level (Konvalinka, Vuusta, Roepstorffa, & Frith, 2010;Richardson, Marsh, Isenhower, Goodman, & Schmidt, 2007;Shockley, Santana, & Fowler, 2003), as well as the biological level of interpersonal tuning (IT) reflected by peripheral autonomic indices such as respiration, heart rate and skin conductance (Konvalinka et al., 2011;McFarland, 2001;Smith et al., 2011;Venturella et al., 2017), but also between brain responses (Astolfi et al., 2011;Balconi et al., 2018b;Balconi, Pezard, Nandrino, & Vanutelli, 2017;Dumas, Nadel, Soussignan, Martinerie, & Garnero, 2010). However, no specific research has directly tested whether there is an effect of increased IT induced by empathic behavior in the social context of employees-managers, particularly with a hyperscanning paradigm. ...
... To the best of our knowledge, no previous research applied the hyperscanning paradigm to organizational research issues. A previous pilot study on leader-employee interactions (Venturella et al., 2017) identifies some neurophysiological markers related to leadership style (authoritative vs. participative) and the role played in the company (leaders vs. employees). However, it did not include tuning analyses. ...
Article
Empirical management research has focused more on the investigation of important interpersonal factors that could be beneficial for a company’s well-being, including emotional and empathic engagement between managers and employees. Recent research has increasingly embodied a neuroscientific methods and paradigms. Specifically, the capacity to understand and mirror others’ feelings could result in a mutual adaptation that generates interpersonal tuning (IT). In the present study, IT was considered as interpersonal coordination of specific physiological processes between two or more subjects in interaction with each other. We measured IT by applying a hyperscanning approach with simultaneous recording of electroencephalographic (EEG) signals from two participants interacting together, in addition to interpersonal behavioral measures. 11 leaders and 11 employees were recruited and asked to role-play an employee performance review with a rating (R) or no rating (NR) condition. In the NR condition leaders describe by words the employee’s proficiency, while in R they provided a quantitative rating. The NR condition emerged as the more engaging situation in terms of empathic responses and mirroring. This difference was detectable from localization of neurophysiological effects over the frontopolar and frontal brain areas, and the higher synchronization of EEG delta frequency coherence. Behavioral resultsalso revealed an increase of self-perceived emotional tuning, agreement on content, and interpersonal cooperation in the NR condition compared to R condition. These effects were present in both leaders and employeesand have several implications for social and company well-being.
... In this sense, to extract neurophysiological data, it is imperative to identify phases that are both crucial, similar, and recurring. For this purpose, previous studies managed to qualitatively detect recurring verbal patterns in conversational interactions between agents and then combine them with EEG data (Venturella et al., 2017). The blend of EEG data with conversational information collected during the real-time dialogues can add value to the assessment of a training session. ...
... The salient phases of the training process, present in both two training conditions (face-to-face and remote) were used to form a time-block on recorded EEG trace to be analyzed (for this procedure, see also Venturella et al., 2017). ...
... As performed in previous studies (Venturella et al., 2017), starting from what emerged in this first qualitative analysis, EEG recording was divided into time-block, according to these temporal segments, and we then selected and extracted the corresponding electrophysiological activity for each subject. ...
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The digitalization of learning in the organization represents both a necessity and an opportunity. Little to no research explored how distance training affects cognitive and affective processes in individuals and workgroups. For this reason, in this work, we propose an hyperscanning research design where conversational analysis is used to compare neurophysiological measures (frequency band analysis: delta, theta, alpha, and beta) between an equivalent training session carried out in two conditions (face-to-face and remote), by collecting electroencephalographic data (EEG) on a trainer and three groups of trainees. We theoretically describe the protocol, and we further report initial explorative results. Data showed a significant effect of the condition on both theta and beta waves, with higher synchronization for the face-to-face setting. Also, trainees seem more impacted by the delivery modality compared to the trainer. This work highlights the relevance of neurophysiological measures to test e-learning efficacy.
... Such complexity does not include only the leader's cognitive ability and personality, but also the context, some specific features of the employees, and, more importantly, the interpersonal relationship between these two figures, which consists of a reciprocal interplay. As revealed by a recent work (Venturella, Gatti, Vanutelli, & Balconi, 2017), indeed, it is very important to catch the complexity of social relations within a managerial context by also including communication and emotional factors. In this specific case, for example, it was found that the adoption of a cooperative leadership style was more engaging by the employees, as revealed by psychophysiological and electrophysiological indices during different steps of the conversational shifting, including appealing topics for both the parties involved, such as the company's mission, leader's or employee's personal change, etc. ...
... However, only a few previous works applied autonomic activity to neuromanagement in an ecological setting. Considering again the recent pilot study on leader-employee interactions (Balconi, 2017;Venturella et al., 2017), it was possible to better explore the moment of performance review of the employees by the managers and to find specific neurophysiological or psychophysiological markers of emotional and cognitive responses, as well as a comparison between authoritative and participative styles. However, the effects related to the feedback and its differential effect on different professional roles still need to be explored, as well as its interaction with the presence versus the absence of a quantitative rating. ...
... In detail, we aimed at investigating in depth the differential responses provided by two professionals because of their organizational role (role variable) during a critical moment such as the evaluation. Also, although previous research mainly focused on the employee's assessment (Venturella et al., 2017), we were interested in investigating also the process by which the employee assesses his/her boss. In fact, we meant to investigate the differential effects related to the presence of a unidirectional (where only the leader provides a feedback) or a reciprocal (where both the leader and the employee give an evaluation) assessment (feedback variable) according to the different institutional role. ...
Article
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.
... Taking together the aim of the research and the used techniques suggest that the meeting between the company needs of brand communication and recruitment evaluations is possible by joining the neurosciences science applied to management issues. In fact, neuromanagement in particular detects how communication can affect people within organizational and work situations (Venturella et al., 2017) through neuroscience instrumentation. ...
... Therefore, applying the neuroscience approach to strategic company planning that considers both the internal organization and the external communication appeared to be a key factor, and it allowed it to flow into the issue of neuromanagement. This approach can also be useful to explore organizational processes and the way to react and cope with daily job circumstances (Venturella et al., 2017). Moreover, the fact of collecting data in real-time allows us to have data on real reactions, not mediated by cognitive elaborations typical of the retrospective approach. ...
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During recruitment, human resource departments face two challenges: finding the right people for the job and attracting talent. Therefore, the hiring process requires both the ability to communicate a good company brand image and to understand the characteristics and potential of candidates. In this study, we used a neuroscientific approach to measure the experience of candidates during a job interview. The experiment involved 30 participants that individually took part in a job interview lasting 40 min. During the experiment, their engagement and stress levels were measured in real-time with skin conductance and electroencephalographic (EEG) data. From the results, we identified both the most stressful phases (the second and the fourth parts, relating to the explanation of the job and remuneration) and the most engaging phases (the first and the third phases, relating to the presentation of the company and the explanation of the career process) of the interview, suggesting implications for the assessment process. This study is a contribution to the field of neuromanagement, as a neuroscientific approach was applied to management issues in light of work and organizational psychology.
... Perez et al. [80] investigated interbrain synchronization patterns in pairs of participants interacting through speech by having participants alternate between the role of speaker/listener for semi-structured oral narratives without interpersonal visual contact. Some studies utilized in-person games or role-play [34,[82][83][84]. Venturella et al. [82] looked at how hyperscanning can be used in leadership/management of a business. ...
... Some studies utilized in-person games or role-play [34,[82][83][84]. Venturella et al. [82] looked at how hyperscanning can be used in leadership/management of a business. This study had participants role-play as a leader and an employee during a work performance evaluation. ...
Article
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The aim of this study was to conduct a comprehensive review on hyperscanning research (measuring brain activity simultaneously from more than two people interacting) using an explicit systematic method, the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA). Data were searched from IEEE Xplore, PubMed, Engineering Village, Web of Science and Scopus databases. Inclusion criteria were journal articles written in English from 2000 to 19 June 2019. A total of 126 empirical studies were screened out to address three specific questions regarding the neuroimaging method, the application domain, and the experiment paradigm. Results showed that the most used neuroimaging method with hyperscanning was magnetoencephalography/electroencephalography (MEG/EEG; 47%), and the least used neuroimaging method was hyper-transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) (1%). Applications in cognition accounted for almost half the studies (48%), while educational applications accounted for less than 5% of the studies. Applications in decision-making tasks were the second most common (26%), shortly followed by applications in motor synchronization (23%). The findings from this systematic review that were based on documented, transparent and reproducible searches should help build cumulative knowledge and guide future research regarding inter-brain neural synchrony during social interactions, that is, hyperscanning research.
... In this sense, the automation of part of the process adds value only if substantial changes are implemented among all the organization, which happens when the efficiency of the machine is strengthened by human cognitive skills and adequate flexibility. Under this light, neuromanagement, a new branch of management, was recently developed, where decision-making processes Fronda, 2019, 2020a) and social behavior and interaction Venturella et al., 2017;Balconi and Fronda, 2020b) are studied in real-world situations by using a neuroscientific approach. ...
... I N THE LAST years, organizational research has increasingly embraced the neuroscientific approach, to explore some important topics and phenomena that occur in the workplace, such as leadership, 1-3 decision making, 4,5 marketing, 6,7 management, 8 learning, 9 development, 10 and so on. In fact, it became evident that such processes cannot be completely explored by means of conventional methods, such as questionnaires and interviews, which are subject to several biases, 3 related to expectations, lack of trust, fear of reprisals, and, above all, the need for proficient introspective capacities by the subjects. ...
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Organizational research started including neurosciences exploring pivotal phenomena and promoting organizational well-being. Leadership was investigated by assessing psychophysiological responses during performance review characterized by narrative or quantitative assessments and their effects on employees' well-being. As is known, rating could be perceived as threatening for employees' ranking and status perception, leading to avoidant behaviors. Design and methodology: Here, manager-employee dyads were assigned to 2 conditions: in the nonrate scenario, managers were asked to describe the employee's performance; in the rate one, they had to provide a quantitative rating. Skin conductance level and response and heart rate indices were continuously recorded. Findings: Dyads in nonrate condition showed higher arousal-related responses (skin conductance level and skin conductance response), perhaps highlighting an increased engagement triggered by a rewarding exchange. Conversely, in rate condition, employees showed higher heart rate, usually related to negative and stressful conditions, and avoidant behaviors. Originality/value: Results are discussed for their possible applications to employees' well-being.
... Secondly, neuromanagement application is the most innovative hyperscanning application aiming to apply neuroscientific methods to management. Using both brain and autonomic signals, Venturella et al (2017) investigated the interaction between the leader and an employee, and the study was largely concerned with the employee's reaction to different communication styles of the leader. ...
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In the last decade, passive BCI algorithms and biosignals acquisition technologies experienced a significant growth that has allowed the real-time analysis of biosignals, with the aim to quantify relevant insights, like mental and emotional states, of the users. Several passive BCI-based applications have been tested in laboratory settings, and just few of them in real or, at least, simulated but high-realistic settings. Anyhow, works performed in laboratory settings are not able to take into account all those factors (artefacts, non-brain influences, other mental states) that could impair the usability of passive BCIs during real applications, naturally characterized by higher complexity. The present review takes into account the most recent trends in using advanced passive BCI technologies in real settings, especially for real-time mental states' evaluation in operational environments, evaluation of team resources, training and expertise assessment, gaming and neuromarketing applications. The objective of the work is to draw a mark on where we are nowadays and the future challenges, in order to make passive BCIs closer to be integrated in day-life applications.
... Finally, an innovative application was proposed by Balconi et al. (Venturella et al., 2017) within a neuromanagement approach: the authors proposed a pilot study on the brain dynamics occurring during a role-played employees' evaluation in couples of manager-collaborator. Preliminary results showed greater delta and theta response to positive and constructive inter-subjective exchange, as well as to the conversational moments while sharing the company mission and aims. ...
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Some individuals have a greater capacity than others to carry out sophisticated information processing about emotions and emotion-relevant stimuli and to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. The authors have termed this set of abilities emotional intelligence (EI). Since the introduction of the concept, however, a schism has developed in which some researchers focus on EI as a distinct group of mental abilities, and other researchers instead study an eclectic mix of positive traits such as happiness, self-esteem, and optimism. Clarifying what EI is and is not can help the field by better distinguishing research that is truly pertinent to EI from research that is not. EI--conceptualized as an ability--is an important variable both conceptually and empirically, and it shows incremental validity for predicting socially relevant outcomes.
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The study aims to explore the significance of event-related potentials (ERPs) and event-related brain oscillations (EROs) (delta, theta, and alpha power) in response to emotional face during 180-250 poststimulus time interval. Twenty-one adults looked at emotional (sad, happy, fearful) or neutral faces. The results demonstrated that the emotional face elicited a negative peak at approximately 230 ms (N230). Moreover EEG measures showed that motivational significance of face (stimulus type) can modulate the amplitude of EEG, especially for theta and delta. Regression analysis showed that theta oscillations mainly effect as oscillation activity at the N2 latency. Thus, this frequency band variation could represent a complex set of cognitive processes, whereby selective attention becomes focused on an emotional relevant stimulus.
Article
This article presents an overview of the author's recent electrophysiological studies of anterior cerebral asymmetries related to emotion and affective style. A theoretical account is provided of the role of the two hemispheres in emotional processing. This account assigns a major role in approach- and withdrawal-related behavior to the left and right frontal and anterior temporal regions of two hemispheres, respectively. Individual differences in approach- and withdrawal-related emotional reactivity and temperament are associated with stable differences in baseline measures of activation asymmetry in these anterior regions. Phasic state changes in emotion result in shifts in anterior activation asymmetry which are superimposed upon these stable baseline differences. Future directions for research in this area are discussed.
Article
We have reviewed the evidence that processes and functions related to perception and expression of emotions are represented asymmetrically in the cerebral hemispheres. The literature describes three possible aspects of emotional lateralization: that emotions are better recognized by the right hemisphere; that control of emotional expression and related behaviors takes place principally in the right hemisphere; and that the right hemisphere is specialized for dealing with negative emotions, while the left is specialized for dealing with positive emotions. Evidence for the three hypotheses derives from methodologically diverse studies in unimpaired, brain-lesioned, and mood-disordered populations. Relatively little of the work has been precisely replicated, and conclusions rest on parallel lines of evidence from diverse sources. The present level of knowledge suggests a model of emotional control based on interactive inhibition between a right negatively biased and left positively biased hemisphere. However, the details of such a model, including the precise conditions under which emotion-related functions are lateralized, and the mechanisms of such lateralization have yet to be elucidated.
Article
This study is part of an effort to map neural systems involved in the processing of emotion, and it focuses on the possible cortical components of the process of recognizing facial expressions. We hypothesized that the cortical systems most responsible for the recognition of emotional facial expressions would draw on discrete regions of right higher-order sensory cortices and that the recognition of specific emotions would depend on partially distinct system subsets of such cortical regions. We tested these hypotheses using lesion analysis in 37 subjects with focal brain damage. Subjects were asked to recognize facial expressions of six basic emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness. Data were analyzed with a novel technique, based on three-dimensional reconstruction of brain images, in which anatomical description of surface lesions and task performance scores were jointly mapped onto a standard brain-space. We found that all subjects recognized happy expressions normally but that some subjects were impaired in recognizing negative emotions, especially fear and sadness. The cortical surface regions that best correlated with impaired recognition of emotion were in the right inferior parietal cortex and in the right mesial anterior infracalcarine cortex. We did not find impairments in recognizing any emotion in subjects with lesions restricted to the left hemisphere. These data provide evidence for a neural system important to processing facial expressions of some emotions, involving discrete visual and somatosensory cortical sectors in right hemisphere.
Article
A system for electrode placement is described. It is designed for studies on topography and source analysis of spontaneous and evoked EEG activity. The proposed system is based on the extended International 10-20 system which contains 74 electrodes, and extends this system up to 345 electrode locations. The positioning and nomenclature of the electrode system is described, and a subset of locations is proposed as especially useful for modern EEG/ERP systems, often having 128 channels available. Similar to the extension of the 10-20 system to the 10-10 system ("10% system"), proposed in 1985, the goal of this new extension to a 10-5 system is to further promote standardization in high-resolution EEG studies.
Article
Signals from eye movements and blinks can be orders of magnitude larger than brain-generated electrical potentials and are one of the main sources of artifacts in electroencephalographic (EEG) data. Rejecting contaminated trials causes substantial data loss, and restricting eye movements/blinks limits the experimental designs possible and may impact the cognitive processes under investigation. This article presents a method based on blind source separation (BSS) for automatic removal of electroocular artifacts from EEG data. BBS is a signal-processing methodology that includes independent component analysis (ICA). In contrast to previously explored ICA-based methods for artifact removal, this method is automated. Moreover, the BSS algorithm described herein can isolate correlated electroocular components with a high degree of accuracy. Although the focus is on eliminating ocular artifacts in EEG data, the approach can be extended to other sources of EEG contamination such as cardiac signals, environmental noise, and electrode drift, and adapted for use with magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data, a magnetic correlate of EEG.
Article
From a psychophysiological point of view, arousal is a fundamental feature of behavior. As reported in different empirical studies based on insights from theories of consumer behavior, store atmosphere should evoke phasic arousal reactions to attract consumers. Most of these empirical investigations used verbal scales to measure consumers' perceived phasic arousal at the point-of-sale (POS). However, the validity of verbal arousal measurement is questioned; self-reporting methods only allow a time-lagged measurement. Furthermore, the selection of inappropriate items to represent perceived arousal is criticized, and verbal reports require some form of cognitive evaluation of perceived arousal by the individual, who might (in a non-measurement condition) not even be aware of the arousal. By contrast, phasic electrodermal reaction (EDR) has proven to be the most appropriate and valid indicator for measuring arousal [W. Boucsein, Physiologische Grundlagen und Messmethoden der dermalen Aktivität. In: F. Rösler (Ed.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie, Bereich Psychophysiologie, Band 1: Grundlagen and Methoden der Psychophysiologie, Kapitel, Vol. 7, Hogrefe, Göttingen, 2001, pp. 551-623] that could be relevant to behavior. EDR can be recorded simultaneously to the perception of stimuli. Furthermore, telemetric online device can be used, which enables physiological arousal measurement while participants can move freely through the store and perform the assigned task in the experiments. The present paper delivers insights on arousal theory and results from empirical studies using EDR to measure arousal at the POS.
Emotional contagion and trait empathy in prosocial behavior in young people: the contribution of autonomic (facial feedback) and Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) measures
  • M Balconi
  • Y Canvesio
Balconi, M., & Canvesio, Y. (2013). Emotional contagion and trait empathy in prosocial behavior in young people: the contribution of autonomic (facial feedback) and Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES) measures. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neurophysiology, 1(35), 41-48.
Comunicazione, emozioni e neuromanagement [Communication, emotions and neuromanagement
  • M Balconi
  • I Venturella
Balconi, M., & Venturella, I. (2015). Comunicazione, emozioni e neuromanagement [Communication, emotions and neuromanagement]. In: Salati M.E., & Leoni A. (Eds.) Neuroscienze e Management. Nuovi strumenti per la professione manageriale. (pp.235-249) Milano: Guerini Next.
Review: Strategic leadership: Top executives and their effects on organizations
  • S Finkelstein
  • D C Hambrick
Finkelstein, S., & Hambrick, D.C. (1996). Review: Strategic leadership: Top executives and their effects on organizations. Australian Journal of Management, 4(1), 148-156.
Research companion to emotion in organizations
  • R H Humphrey
  • J B Kellett
  • R G Sleeth
  • N S Hartman
Humphrey, R.H., Kellett, J.B., Sleeth, R.G., & Hartman, N.S. (2008). Research trends in emotions and leadership. In Ashkanasy, N.M., & Cooper C.L (Eds..). Research companion to emotion in organizations,(pp. 455-464). Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Two-in-one: inter-brain hyperconnectivity during cooperation by simultaneous EEG-fNIRS recording
  • M E Vanutelli
  • D Crivelli
  • M Balconi
Vanutelli M.E., Crivelli D., & Balconi M. (2015). Two-in-one: inter-brain hyperconnectivity during cooperation by simultaneous EEG-fNIRS recording. Neuropsychological Trends, 18, 156-156.