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Mar 01, 2017 07:36 AM EST

Drexel And Princeton University Researchers Study Brain Synchronization

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Researchers from Drexel University and Princeton University used a wearable brain-imaging device to study brain synchronization. This technology can be helpful in a more in-depth study of how humans send and receive information.

Drexel University biomedical engineers collaborated with Princeton University psychologists to measure neural activity in humans during real-life situations, Medical Xpress reported. The researchers used a near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) system which uses light to measure the brain's activity.

The study has been published in the journal "Scientific Reports." It found that the device, which can be worn like a headband, is able to measure brain synchronization during verbal communication.

Hasan Ayaz, PhD, who led the research team, said that the analysis of the interactions of multiple brains is becoming a popular study in social neuroscience. Ayaz is an associate research professor in Drexel's School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems.

The study is based on previous research by Uri Hasson, PhD, associate professor at Princeton University. He was able to use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain mechanisms that comprise the production and understanding of language.

According to Science Daily, traditional brain imaging methods, such as the fMRI used in Hasson's research, are limited in that it is not possible to study the brains of several people who are talking with each other. This is why the Drexel University biomedical engineers opted to use the portable fNIRS system to see whether it would be a more effective tool.

A native English speaker and two native Turkish speakers participated in the study. They were asked to tell an unrehearsed, real-life story in their native language.

Afterwards, the researchers recorded their stories and scanned their brains using fNIRS. 15 English speakers were also asked to listen to the recordings.

They found that the listeners' brain activity matched with the English speakers, with whom they shared a common language. This supported their hypothesis that a listener's brain activity would correlate with that of the speaker's if they understood the story.

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