Synchronizing autonomic response. A biofeedback hyperscanning approach to assess emotional tuning

Maria Elide Vanutelli, Laura Gatti, Laura Angioletti, Michela Balconi

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


Existing research already suggested that during different types of social interaction people can reciprocally influence others’ emotional responses through resonance mechanisms. One of the most interesting aspects from a neuroscientific point of view is that such tuning mechanisms can result in an alignment of the psychophysiological responses. In detail, the peripheral autonomic activity is particularly sensitive to interactive social dynamics and it has been demonstrated that the presence of a link between two or more individuals can modify their psychophysiological responses by creating synchronized patterns. Starting from the idea that, when two individuals have a common goal, they also share emotional experiences, the present study adopted a new paradigm which was created to artificially induce a social bond. The experiment consists in asking participants to cooperate each other and monitoring their peripheral indices in real-time according to the perceived emotional closeness. The paradigm was presented as a game and consisted in a selective attention task. 24 participants, coupled in same-sex dyads, participated in the study. Instead of being required to perform as best as they could, they were asked to find a way to synchronize their motor responses and obtain comparable reaction times and accuracy rates. Both electrodermal (electrodermal: skin conductance level and response: SCL, SCR) and cardiovascular indices (heart rate: HR) were recorded continuously throughout the task. To induce participants to cooperate and to be engaged in the joint task, a general feedback was presented halfway assessing a positive cooperative performance. Such feedback was pre-determined by the experimenter. Two successive steps of analysis have been performed. The first one was at the subject level and was meant to explore the general modulation of peripheral indices during the different phases throughout the task. Results showed that the first part of the task was characterized by higher HR activities. It is possible to attribute such result to the increased need for cognitive resources and arousal-related responses in a new social context which must be still acquired and organized. On the contrary, after the social feedback and the acquisition of confidence and positive emotions coming from the joint performance, such indices significantly decreased. Then, a second analysis was performed on the correlational indices calculated between the psychophysiological responses of the two members of each couple. This procedure showed increased synchrony in electrodermal activity after the social feedback, moreover in the very last phase of the game. Such result can be attributed to the reinforce of common strategy and, above all, of a dyadic bond. This new paradigm thus proved to be useful to explore joint and ecological social dynamics in neuroscientific settings and future research could include it to explore such dynamics also in clinical settings.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteAtti del «XXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive»
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017
EventoXXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive - Roma
Durata: 16 nov 201718 nov 2017


ConvegnoXXV Congresso della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive


  • Autonomic activity
  • Hyperscanning
  • Inter-personal coupling, Affective response


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