Neuroscientists claim to have determined the brain state peculiar to “team flow”

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At some point in your life, you may enjoy a state of “flow”-when you are so focused on a task or activity, you experience a strong sense of control, a reduced awareness of the environment and yourself, and Feel the passing of time being minimized.

You can also experience “team mobility”, such as playing music together, participating in sports team competitions, or playing games. In this state, when we complete the task at hand together, we seem to have an intuitive understanding of others.

An international team of neuroscientists now believes that they have discovered the unique neural states of the team’s flow, and these states seem to be different from the flow states we experience as individuals and the neural states usually associated with social interactions.

“In individual flow, the brain will turn off external stimuli that are not related to the task. In team flow, the brain will still turn off external stimuli, except for the flow state information of teammates. Therefore, the team brain starts to synchronize more,” the study Mohammad Shehata, a neuroscientist and co-author of, told ScienceAlert.

Our brain is made up of billions of neurons. When they fire, they emit electrical outputs. These collective electrical signals can be aligned with certain frequencies.

Some examples of frequencies are alpha, beta, and gamma, which are measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Usually, these different frequency bands appear when we perform certain cognitive tasks. This is the type of neural activity that researchers are studying.

Participants’ neural activity was measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, in which electrodes were placed on the skull to detect activity occurring in the brain.

In the main phase of the experiment, 38 participants were asked to play a game similar to Guitar Hero on the iPad. You can synchronize with the rhythm of the song on the screen; they work in pairs, and the researchers try to pair up two friends first .

The research team designed three conditions for the experiment; in one, the participants and their partners were separated by a black foam board partition to play the game, providing researchers with brain data when they were in a state of “individual” mobility. In the second case, people play games with their partners, but the researchers will play discordant music from time to time to disrupt the process.

In the third condition, labeled “Team Flow”, participants play games with their partners. The music sequence they must play on the iPad is the same in all tasks to minimize any cognitive load.

In order to ensure that participants actually enter a state of flow under the required conditions, the researchers used two techniques. On a subjective level, after completing a task under one condition, participants must rate certain statements, such as “I feel in control when playing this demo” and “How did the time pass during this trial”.

Furthermore, the research team also hopes to obtain an objective measurement of the participant’s flow state, which is a well-known difficulty in flow research.

They wrote in the study: “We took advantage of the task-related intense attention and flow of reduced external consciousness dimensions, as well as the well-known effects of selective attention on auditory evoked potentials (AEPs).”

“In each trial, we will show participants beeps that are not related to the task. The longer the participant is immersed in the game, the weaker the AEP’s response to the beeps that are not related to the task.”

So, when participants are in a state of team mobility, what are the characteristics of their brains?

Researchers found that the β and γ brain wave activity in the middle temporal cortex of the left side increased. The team wrote that this area of ​​the brain is usually associated with key functions such as information integration and attention, memory, and consciousness, which are “consistent with higher team interactions and enhancement of many fluid dimensions.”

However, what is unique about team mobility is that the neural activities of the participants seem to be synchronized. When participants perform tasks as a whole, their brains align with each other in their neural oscillations (β and γ activities), creating a “super-cognitive state” among team members.

If the brain can be functionally connected through synchronization between the brains, does this mean that it is not just our brain that contributes to our consciousness? This is a strange question, but the author warns that it is too early to draw conclusions.

“Based on our findings, we cannot conclude that the high value of comprehensive information is related to improved forms of consciousness, for example,’team consciousness’,” they wrote.

“Its consistency with neural synchronization raises interesting and empirical questions related to synchronization and information integration between the brains and changes in the state of consciousness.”

Source: Science Alert



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