One single-person bicycling enhances interpersonal cooperation via increasing interpersonal neural synchronization in left frontal cortex

Hum Brain Mapp. 2023 Aug 15;44(12):4535-4544. doi: 10.1002/hbm.26397. Epub 2023 Jun 26.


Previous findings have shown a strong relationship between sports and interpersonal cooperative behavior. Physical activity is the basic form of sport. In this study, we investigated the effect of physical activity on interpersonal cooperative behavior and its inter-brain correlates. Eighty college students were recruited and randomly divided into the experimental or control group (20 dyads per each). The experimental group performed a 30-min of moderate intensity single-person cycling exercise, while the control group performed a 30-min single-person sitting. Interpersonal cooperative behavior was measured by a Prisoner's Dilemma task before and after the intervention, while neural activities in the frontal cortex in each dyad were measured by the near-infrared spectroscopy-based hyperscanning approach. The results showed that the average cooperation rate and cooperation efficiency of the experimental dyads were significantly higher after the exercise intervention compared to that before intervention, but not in control group. Meanwhile, the interpersonal neural synchronization (INS) in the left frontal cortex was significantly increased after intervention only in experimental dyads. Moreover, the INS increased in left frontal cortex was positively correlated with the cooperation improvement. Taken together, these results indicate that one single-person bicycling can improve interpersonal cooperation behavior, which may be associated with enhanced interpersonal neural synchronization in the left frontal cortex.

Keywords: Prisoner's Dilemma; interpersonal cooperation; interpersonal neural synchronization; near-infrared spectroscopy-based hyperscanning; one single-person bicycling.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Brain*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations