Behavioral and brain synchronization differences between expert and novice teachers when collaborating with students

Brain Cogn. 2020 Mar;139:105513. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2019.105513. Epub 2019 Dec 27.


Differences in behavior and neural mechanisms between expert and novice teachers when collaborating with students are poorly understood. This study investigated whether expert teachers do better in collaborating with students than novice teachers and explored the neural basis of such differences. Novice teacher and student (NT-S) dyads and expert teacher and student (ET-S) dyads were recruited to complete an interactive task consisting of a cooperation and an independent condition. During the experiment, neural activity in the prefrontal cortex of the participants was recorded with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. The results show higher accuracy for the ET-S dyads than the NT-S dyads in the cooperation condition; however, no difference was found in the independent condition. Increased interpersonal brain synchronization (IBS) was detected in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of participants in ET-S dyads, but not in NT-S dyads in the cooperation condition. Moreover, an interaction effect of dyad type and conditions on IBS was observed, revealing IBS was stronger in ET-S dyads than in NT-S dyads. In ET-S dyads, IBS was positively correlated with the teachers' perspective-taking ability and accuracy. These findings suggest that expert teachers collaborate better with students than novice teachers, and IBS might be the neural marker for this difference.

Keywords: Cooperative interaction; Expert teacher; Interpersonal brain synchronization; Novice teacher; fNIRS-based hyperscanning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • School Teachers*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared / methods
  • Students*
  • Young Adult