Welcome! On this page you can explore the research findings from the Mutual Wave Machine, a “crowd-sourcing” neuroscience experiment: scientists asked the general audience to help them understand what happens in our brains when we interact face-to-face with another person. If you were one of those participants: *THANK YOU!*

what can you find here?

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This section summarizes the findings and allows you to explore graphs

What can you find here?

  • The  interactive map shows where the Mutual Wave Machine has traveled and how many people have participated as of May 2019

  • The results section summarizes the findings and allows you to explore graphs

  • Hyperlinks in the text lead you to elaborations and explanations, as well as related research

  • Interested in exploring the data yourself? All the datasets will live here

  • Last but not least, don’t forget to check out the credits for our fantastic team

Questions or suggestions? Feel free to email Suzanne Dikker at suzanne.dikker@nyu.edu

synchrony strategies

Participants used different strategies to sync up their brainwaves. Many people tried: (1) doing something together (2) thinking about the same thing, or (3) eye contact. Which of these strategies do you think made brain synchrony go up?

As you can see, eye contact and doing something together (joint action) are both associated with an increase in synchrony over time. Thinking about the same thing, however, did not appear to increase synchrony.

(1) Doing something together (also referred to as “joint action”): This includes singing a song, having a conversation, smiling, holding or moving hands together, etc. The first EEG ‘hyperscanning’ study that was published, by Guillaume Dumas, already showed that if you do something together, your brainwaves sync up. Later studies by Dumas and others have shown that conversation also synchronizes your brainwaves

(2) Thinking about the same thing: This includes strategies like retrieving the same memories (“remember when we got stuck in the rain that one time?”), thinking about the same object or experience (“let’s think about eye cream together!”), or thinking about favorite bands or movies. We didn’t find any evidence that this kind of ‘common grounding’ puts people’s brains on the same wavelength. One possible explanation is that EEG isn’t precise enough to capture such joint thought, perhaps because the signal changes too fast. fMRI studies, which measure brain activity at a much slower pace, have shown that our brains respond similarly if we recall the same past experience or think about the same object.

(3) Eye contact: Many pairs used eye contact as a strategy to connect to each other, and we saw that this increased the synchronization of their gamma brain waves, in line with recent findings from other research groups. Some studies looking at brain synchrony between mothers and their babies have also shown that the It is not surprising that eye contact increases synchrony: eye contact, and gaze more generally, os a very strong social tool that is pivotal in human relationships. This finding also links to our work Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze with performance artist Marina Abramovic: she has used eye gaze as a tool for human connectedness throughout her work, such as The Artist is Present.