Shared neural representations of syntax during online dyadic communication

Wenda Liu, Holly Branigan, L. Zheng, Y. Long, X. Bai, K. Li, H. Zhao, S. Zhou, Martin Pickering, Chunming Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

When people communicate, they come to see the world in a similar way to each other by aligning their mental representations at such levels as syntax. Syntax is an essential feature of human language that distinguishes humans from other non-human animals. However, whether and how communicators share neural representations of syntax is not well understood. Here we addressed this issue by measuring the brain activity of both communicators in a series of dyadic communication contexts, by using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based hyperscanning. Two communicators alternatively spoke sentences either with the same or with different syntactic structures. Results showed a significantly higher-level increase of interpersonal neural synchronization (INS) at right posterior superior temporal cortex when communicators produced the same syntactic structures as each other compared to when they produced different syntactic structures. These increases of INS correlated significantly with communication quality. Our findings provide initial evidence for shared neural representations of syntax between communicators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • neural synchronization
  • syntax
  • shared representation
  • commnication
  • fNIRS


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