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Technologically Assisted Communication May Impair Brain Development

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overview: Face-to-face interactions elicited nine key cross-brain links between the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, whereas remote communication elicited only one.

sauce: University of Montreal

Video conferencing services such as Zoom, Teams, Messenger, FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp are proliferating and are being used more frequently than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shift to technology-enhanced communication has permeated all aspects of social life over the past three years, yet there is little scientific literature on its impact on the social brain.

Could technology-mediated interactions have neurobiological consequences that impede the development of social and cognitive abilities?

An international research team, including Guillaume Dumas, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Addiction at the University of Montreal and principal investigator in the Precision Psychiatry and Social Physiology Laboratory at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, wanted to find out.

Dumas is also an Associate Academic Fellow of Mila (Quebec Institute for Artificial Intelligence) and Chair of IVADO for Artificial Intelligence and Mental Health. His research interests include social neuroscience, systems biology, and artificial intelligence.

In this study, the researchers compared brain electrical activity during face-to-face and technology-assisted remote communication in 62 mother-infant pairs aged 10 to 14 years.

Using a technique called hyperscanning, which can simultaneously record the brain activity of multiple subjects, the research team found that interaction via a videoconferencing platform weakened the synchrony of mother-child brains.

literally on the same wavelength

A few years ago, Dumas showed that the human brain tends to spontaneously synchronize when engaged in social interactions. That is, the brain’s electrical rhythms vibrate at the same frequency.

“Interbrain synchrony is related to the development of social cognition,” explained Dumas. “Brain resonance enables children to distinguish themselves from others and learn social relationships.”

The study found that face-to-face interactions induced nine key cross-brain links between the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, whereas remote interactions generated only one. I was.

“Brain-to-brain desynchronization is expected to affect the cognitive development of children, especially the mechanisms that support social interaction,” said Dumas. “And these are lifelong effects.”

Basic social existence

Given the findings, Dumas believes that more research is needed on the potential impact of social technology on brain maturation, especially in young people. In particular, he questions the adequacy of online education for his teens.

See also

This shows the outlines of people all drawn in different colors
This shows a child looking at a smartphone
The study found that face-to-face interactions induced nine key cross-brain links between the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, whereas remote interactions generated only one. I was.image is public domain

“In an era of fragmented relationships, I wonder about the impact of the pandemic on the digitization of education and the social cognitive development of young people,” he said.

“This is an important question, but one that is difficult to answer given that the full effect will not be known in 10, 15 or 20 years.”

According to Dumas, the findings also apply to adults, and may explain the widespread “Zoom fatigue” after video conferencing increased during COVID lockdowns. They will feel they have to expend more effort and energy to interact,” he suggested.

Dumas believes that this study confirms that social relationships are very important to humans and that interbrain mechanisms are linked to social brain development.

“These results are consistent with research we have done on the power of maternal scent, which found that loving touch from a romantic partner has the power to reduce pain. .

Humans seem to be interconnected by a technology more powerful than Zoom and Teams: the brain.

About this neurodevelopment and communication research news

author: press office
sauce: University of Montreal
contact: Press Office – University of Montreal
image: image is public domain

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