Correlated Neural Activity across the Brains of Socially Interacting Bats

Cell. 2019 Jul 11;178(2):413-428.e22. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.023. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Social interactions occur between multiple individuals, but what is the detailed relationship between the neural dynamics across their brains? To address this question across timescales and levels of neural activity, we used wireless electrophysiology to simultaneously record from pairs of bats engaged in a wide range of natural social interactions. We found that neural activity was remarkably correlated between their brains over timescales from seconds to hours. The correlation depended on a shared social environment and was most prominent in high frequency local field potentials (>30 Hz), followed by local spiking activity. Furthermore, the degree of neural correlation covaried with the extent of social interactions, and an increase in correlation preceded their initiation. These results show that inter-brain correlation is an inherent feature of natural social interactions, reveal the domain of neural activity where it is most prominent, and provide a foundation for studying its functional role in social behaviors.

Keywords: LFP; bats; correlation; electrophysiology; frontal cortex; hyperscanning; mammal; multiunit; single unit; social behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Social Behavior
  • Wireless Technology