The evolution of human cognitive function is reliant on complex social interactions which form the behavioural foundation of who we are. These social capacities are subject to dramatic change in disease and injury; yet their supporting neural substrates remain poorly understood. Hyperscanning employs functional neuroimaging to simultaneously assess brain activity in two individuals and offers the best means to understand the neural basis of social interaction. However, present technologies are limited, either by poor performance (low spatial/temporal precision) or an unnatural scanning environment (claustrophobic scanners, with interactions via video). Here, we describe hyperscanning using wearable magnetoencephalography (MEG) based on optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs). We demonstrate our approach by simultaneously measuring brain activity in two subjects undertaking two separate tasks-an interactive touching task and a ball game. Despite large and unpredictable subject motion, sensorimotor brain activity was delineated clearly, and the correlation of the envelope of neuronal oscillations between the two subjects was demonstrated. Our results show that unlike existing modalities, OPM-MEG combines high-fidelity data acquisition and a naturalistic setting and thus presents significant potential to investigate neural correlates of social interaction.
Keywords: electromagnetic coil; hyperscanning; magnetic shielding; magnetoencephalography; on-scalp MEG; optically pumped magnetometer.