Teams on the same wavelength perform better: Inter-brain phase synchronization constitutes a neural substrate for social facilitation

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Abstract

Working together feels easier with some people than with others. We asked participants to perform a visual search task either alone or with a partner while simultaneously measuring each participant's EEG. Local phase synchronization and inter-brain phase synchronization were generally higher when subjects jointly attended to a visual search task than when they attended to the same task individually. Some participants searched the visual display more efficiently and made faster decisions when working as a team, whereas other dyads did not benefit from working together. These inter-team differences in behavioral performance gain in the visual search task were reliably associated with inter-team differences in local and inter-brain phase synchronization. Our results suggest that phase synchronization constitutes a neural correlate of social facilitation, and may help to explain why some teams perform better than others.

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