Social bonding aligns neural activity in hierarchical groups

Daily News Egypt
2 Min Read

A recent study in PLOS Biology reveals that in small hierarchical groups, social bonding aligns the neural activity of leaders and followers. This alignment fosters more efficient and frequent communication.

Hierarchical social groups are shaped by the status differences and bonds among members. Researchers aimed to understand the impact of bonding on communication within such groups and identify the brain regions involved. They observed 176 three-person groups, previously unacquainted, communicating in a triangular face-to-face setup.

The participants wore caps fitted with fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) electrodes, allowing non-invasive monitoring of brain activity during group interactions. Each trio democratically elected a leader, resulting in a structure of one leader and two followers. The groups then engaged in two economic games to assess their cooperative spirit and group loyalty.

Some groups underwent a bonding session, where they were sorted by color preferences, uniformed, and engaged in introductory conversations to foster camaraderie. These bonded groups exhibited more dynamic and fluid communication compared to non-bonded groups.

The study found that the bonding effect was more pronounced between leaders and followers than among followers alone. Notably, neural activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC) and the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) became synchronized in bonded leader-follower pairs.

The authors suggest that this neural synchronization indicates leaders’ ability to anticipate followers’ thoughts during collective decision-making. However, they note that their findings are based on East Asian Chinese participants, who communicated solely through text and come from a culture that values unity and deference to authority.

In conclusion, the authors propose that social bonding selectively enhances information exchange and neural synchronization across different social statuses, potentially explaining how bonding supports the hierarchical organization of human groups.

Share This Article
Leave a comment