Generation WhatsApp: inter-brain synchrony during face-to-face and texting communication

Linoy Schwartz, Jonathan Levy, Olga Hayut, Ofir Netzer, Yaara Endevelt-Shapira, Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Texting has become one of the most prevalent ways to interact socially, particularly among youth; however, the effects of text messaging on social brain functioning are unknown. Guided by the biobehavioral synchrony frame, this pre-registered study utilized hyperscanning EEG to evaluate interbrain synchrony during face-to-face versus texting interactions. Participants included 65 mother-adolescent dyads observed during face-to-face conversation compared to texting from different rooms. Results indicate that both face-to-face and texting communication elicit significant neural synchrony compared to surrogate data, demonstrating for the first time brain-to-brain synchrony during texting. Direct comparison between the two interactions highlighted 8 fronto-temporal interbrain links that were significantly stronger in the face-to-face interaction compared to texting. Our findings suggest that partners co-create a fronto-temporal network of inter-brain connections during live social exchanges. The degree of improvement in the partners' right-frontal-right-frontal connectivity from texting to the live social interaction correlated with greater behavioral synchrony, suggesting that this well-researched neural connection may be specific to face-to-face communication. Our findings suggest that while technology-based communication allows humans to synchronize from afar, face-to-face interactions remain the superior mode of communication for interpersonal connection. We conclude by discussing the potential benefits and drawbacks of the pervasive use of texting, particularly among youth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2672
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).

Funding

The funding was supported by Bezos Family Foundation, Simms/Mann Foundation Chair.

FundersFunder number
Bezos Family Foundation

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