Neuroscientists claim to point to unique brain states for ‘group flow’

Neuroscientists claim to point to unique brain states for ‘group flow’

At some point in life, you may have experienced a ‘flow’ state – when you are actively focused on a task or activity, you experience a strong sense of control, less awareness of your environment and yourself and a minimal sense of passing about.

You can enjoy ‘group running’ like playing music together, competing on a sports team or gaming. In such a situation, we seem to have an intuitive understanding with others as we collectively complete the task at hand.

An international team of neuroscientists now thinks they have discovered unique neurological states for group flow, and these differ from the flow states we experience as individuals and from the nerve states associated with social interactions in general.

“In individual flow, the brain shuts off external stimuli unrelated to function. In group flow, the brain turns off external stimuli, except for information about the team’s flow status,” neuroscientist Mohamed Shehota, who co-authored the study, told Science Alert.

Our brain is made up of billions of neurons that emit electricity when they ignite, and these collective electrical signals can be aligned at specific frequencies.

Some examples of frequencies are alpha, beta and gamma, which are measured in hertz (hertz) or cycles per second. In general, we have these different frequency bands when we perform certain cognitive tasks, and this is the type of neurological function that researchers have explored.

Neurological function of the participants was measured using an electroencephalography (EEG) machine, which detects activity within the brain and places electrodes on the skull.

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At the main stage of the experiment, 38 participants were asked to play a game like this Guitar Hero On an iPod, tap the screen to sync with the rhythmic notes of a song; They worked in pairs, and the researchers preferred to connect the two friends as much as possible.

The committee laid down three conditions for the inquiry; In one, participants played the game when separated from their partner by a black foam-board partition, providing researchers with data on when the brain was in a ‘personal’ flow state. In the second stage, people played with a partner, but each time the researchers played conflicting music to disrupt the flow.

In the third stage, named ‘Team Running’, the participants played the game with their partner. The music sequence they had to play on their iPods was the same in all tasks to reduce all cognitive loads.

To ensure that participants actually entered the flow position in the desired situation, the researchers used two techniques. At the subjective level, after completing a task at a level, participants should evaluate certain statements such as ‘I was in control while playing this test’, and ‘How time flies during this test’.

Going further, the research team also wanted to get one Goal Measurement of flow level of participants is one of the most difficult in flow studies.

“We used intense work-related attention and a reduced sense of external awareness dimensions of the flow, and the auditory stimulus had a well-known effect of selective attention (AEP).” They write in the study.

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“During each test, we provided participants with non-working beeps. As participants immersed in the game, the strength of the AEP weakens in response to work-inappropriate beeps.”

What was the brain type of participants when the group was in a state of flow?

The researchers found beta and gamma brain wave activity in the left middle temporal cortex. This part of the brain is generally associated with important functions such as information coordination and attention, memory and awareness. The team writes.

However, the uniqueness of the group flow was that it seemed to synchronize the neural activity of the participants. When participants work as a unit, their brain aligns with each other in their neural oscillations (beta and gamma function). Creating a “High-cognitive status among team members”.

If the brain can connect to activity through inter-brain synchronization, it means that our brain is not alone Feeling? This is a strange question, but the authors warn that it is too soon to say.

“Based on our findings, it cannot be concluded that the high value of integrated information is related to altered consciousness, for example, ‘group consciousness’,” They wrote.

“Its consistency with neurological synchronization raises intriguing and empirical questions regarding brain synchronization and information coordination and altered state of consciousness.”

The study was published in the journal eNeuro.

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About the Author: Cary Douglas

Cary Douglas is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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