Claire H. C. Chang
Interpersonal communication is the foundation of human society. Efficient communication allows us to collaborate, transmit experience to each other, and accumulate knowledge across generations. Some even argue that it plays a critical role in the emergence of consciousness.
My researches focus on human communication. Measuring brain signals using fMRI and EEG in naturalistic experimental settings, I investigate (1) the neural mechanism underlying the hierarchical construction of messages as complex as narratives, (2) the dynamic multi-brain neural network during communication, and (3) how effective communication changes the neural dynamics of the audience and their behaviors. Below are three corresponding findings:
(1) Diverging storylines: unique brain activation patterns for two different storylines are found to grow more and more distinctive from each other while the story unfolds.
(2) Herding effect: like a group of sheep guided by a shepherd, at moments of the speech where the listeners follow the speaker closely, i.e. higher speaker-listener neural coupling, they also cluster more tightly together, i.e. higher listener-listener coupling.
(3) Information flow: each narrative evokes unique brain activation patterns that propagate from the sensory areas, followed by the language areas, the attention network, and lastly the default mode network.