Team-work, Team-brain: Exploring synchrony and team interdependence in a nine-person drumming task via multiparticipant hyperscanning and inter-brain network topology with fNIRS

Neuroimage. 2021 Aug 15:237:118147. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118147. Epub 2021 May 10.


Teamwork is indispensable in human societies. However, due to the complexity of studying ecologically valid synchronous team actions, requiring multiple members and a range of subjective and objective measures, the mechanism underlying the impact of synchrony on team performance is still unclear. In this paper, we simultaneously measured groups of nine-participants' (total N = 180) fronto-temporal activations during a drum beating task using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based hyperscanning and multi-brain network modeling, which can assess patterns of shared neural synchrony and attention/information sharing across entire teams. Participants (1) beat randomly without considering others' drumming (random condition), (2) actively coordinated their beats with the entire group without other external cue (team-focus condition), and (3) beat together based on a metronome (shared-focus condition). Behavioral data revealed higher subjective and objective measures of drum-beat synchronization in the team-focus condition, as well as higher felt interdependence. The fNIRS data revealed that participants in the team-focus condition also showed higher interpersonal neural synchronization (INS) and higher Global Network Efficiency in their left TPJ and mPFC. Higher left TPJ Global Network Efficiency also predicted higher actual synchrony in the team-focus condition, with an effect size roughly 1.5 times that of subjective measures, but not in the metronome-enabled shared-focus condition. This result suggests that shared mental representations with high efficiency of information exchange across the entire team may be a key component of synchrony, adding to the understanding of the actual relation to team work.

Keywords: Graph theory; Multiparticipant hyperscanning; Organizational neuroscience; Teamwork; fNIRS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging*
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared*
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult