Neural rhythmic underpinnings of intergroup bias: Implications for peace-building attitudes and dialogue

Jonathan Levy, Abraham Goldstein, Moran Influs, Shafiq Masalha, Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Intergroup bias is a ubiquitous socio-cognitive phenomenon that, while sustaining human dependence on group living, often leads to prejudice, inequity, and violence; yet, its neural underpinnings remain unclear. Framed within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and targeting youth, this study utilized magnetoencephalography to describe intrinsic neural oscillatory processes that represent the intergroup bias and may link with engagement in peacemaking in order to shed further light on the neural mechanisms underpinning intergroup conflict. Across the oscillatory spectrum, from very low to very high frequency bands, the only rhythm found to underlie the intergroup bias was the alpha rhythm. Alpha rhythm was continuously activated across the task and integrated a rapid perceptual component in the occipital cortex with a top-down cognitive-control component in the medial cingulate cortex. These components were distinctly associated with the real-life intergroup dialogue style and expressed attitudes that promote active engagement in peacemaking. Our findings suggest that the cortical alpha rhythm plays a crucial role in sustaining intergroup bias and addresses its impact on concrete intergroup experiences. The results highlight the need to provide opportunities for active peace-building dialogue to youth reared amidst intractable conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-420
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • alpha rhythm
  • conflict resolution
  • intergroup bias
  • intergroup conflict
  • intergroup dialogue
  • magnetoencephalography


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