Shared attention and inter-individual neural synchronization in the human right inferior frontal gyrus

[Speaker] Sadato, Norihiro:1
1:National Institute for Physiological Sciences (Japan)

Face-to-face interactants can share attention through eye-contact and joint attention that are tightly coupled. Hyper-scanning fMRI in pairs of adults conducting joint attention showed the inter-individual neural synchronization in the right inferior frontal gyrus after all the task-related effects were modeled out. To explore how the joint attention and eye-contact generates the state of shared attention, we conducted hyper-scanning fMRI in which pairs of participants performed a real-time mutual gaze before and after the joint attention. During mutual gaze, eye-blink synchronization, a behavioral index of shared attention, increased after the joint attention. Increment of eye-blink synchronization was positively correlated with the increment of the inter-individual neural synchronization within the right inferior frontal gyrus during mutual gaze. This enhanced neural synchronization was also positively correlated with enhanced eye-blink synchronization during the previous joint attention. Thus shared attention is represented and retained by pair-specific neural synchronization of the right inferior frontal gyrus.
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