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Monday, April 10, 2023

Revealing the neurobiology underlying interpersonal neural synchronization with multimodal data fusion

Lotter, L. D., Kohl, S. H.,  et al. (2023).
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,
146, 105042. 


Humans synchronize with one another to foster successful interactions. Here, we use a multimodal data fusion approach with the aim of elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms by which interpersonal neural synchronization (INS) occurs. Our meta-analysis of 22 functional magnetic resonance imaging and 69 near-infrared spectroscopy hyperscanning experiments (740 and 3721 subjects) revealed robust brain regional correlates of INS in the right temporoparietal junction and left ventral prefrontal cortex. Integrating this meta-analytic information with public databases, biobehavioral and brain-functional association analyses suggested that INS involves sensory-integrative hubs with functional connections to mentalizing and attention networks. On the molecular and genetic levels, we found INS to be associated with GABAergic neurotransmission and layer IV/V neuronal circuits, protracted developmental gene expression patterns, and disorders of neurodevelopment. Although limited by the indirect nature of phenotypic-molecular association analyses, our findings generate new testable hypotheses on the neurobiological basis of INS.


• When we interact, both our behavior and our neural activity synchronize.

• Neuroimaging meta-analysis and multimodal data fusion may reveal neural mechanisms.

• Robust involvement of right temporoparietal and left prefrontal brain regions.

• Associations to attention and mentalizing, GABA and layer IV/V neurotransmission.

• Brain-wide associated genes are enriched in neurodevelopmental disorders.


In recent years, synchronization of brain activities between interacting partners has been acknowledged as a central mechanism by which we foster successful social relationships as well as a potential factor involved in the pathogenesis of diverse neuropsychiatric disorders. Based on the results generated by our multimodal data fusion approach (see Fig. 5), we hypothesized that human INS is tightly linked to social attentional processing, subserved by the rTPJ as a sensory integration hub at the brain system level, and potentially facilitated by GABA-mediated E/I balance at the neurophysiological level.

Note: The interpersonal neural synchronization is a fascinating piece of research.  How to improve the synchronization may help with effective psychotherapy.