Playing Computer Games With Friends Can Make Your Brains Sync

/ 3 years ago


Scientists have discovered that playing computer games can bring players’ emotional responses and brain activity into “unison“, according to a press release in Daily Science. By measuring the activity of facial muscles and imaging the brain while gaming, the group found out that people go through similar emotions and display matching brainwaves.

“”It’s well known that people who communicate face-to-face will start to imitate each other. People adopt each other’s poses and gestures, much like infectious yawning. What is less known is that the very physiology of interacting people shows a type of mimicry — which we call synchrony or linkage,” explains Michiel Sovijärvi-Spapé.”

In the study, test participants play a computer game called Hedgewars, in which they manage their own team of animated hedgehogs and in turns shoot the opposing team with ballistic artillery. It was noticed that the players teamed up against the computer while they were pinned directly against each other. Both players were measured with fEMG and EEG during this time. It was noticed that the more competitive the game gets, the more in sync the players’ emotional responses are.

“Replicating previous studies, we found linkage in the fEMG: two players showed both similar emotions and similar brainwaves at similar times. We further observed a linkage also in the brainwaves with EEG,” tells Sovijärvi-Spapé.
“Although counterintuitive, the discovered effect increases as a game becomes more competitive. And the more competitive it gets, the more the players’ positive emotions begin to reflect each other. All the while their experiences of negative emotions increase.”

Another interpretation suggested by the group is that the physical linkage of emotion may work to compensate a possibly faltering social bond while competing in a gaming setting.

The research was conducted in collaboration between Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, Aalto University School of Science, Aalto University School of Business and the University of Helsinki.

Thank you Daily Science for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Daily Science

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