May 11


Eye Contact Prepares Brains for Social Interaction

By Margaret

May 11, 2019

When two people facing each other make eye contact, it activates the same areas of their brains. That is the result of a research done using neuroimaging and published in the journal eNeuro. It was discovered that having real time eye contact should serve as a foundation for an effective social interaction. The researchers used a technique that is called hyperscanning functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to understand what happens when two people gaze into the eyes of the person facing them. Then they compared their brain activity using a video camera and screen in the fMRI scanner. This observation was done in real time or sometimes with a twenty second delay. Some of the effects that were observed during the scanning and observation was that there was increased activation of the cerebellum, the eye blinks of partners resulted in mutual influence, and the limbic mirror system was also observed to show enhanced connectivity during this time. The suggestion was that real time eye contact is a preparatory phase for the brain to share mental states with one’s partner.

Key Takeaways:

  • A neuroimaging study that was conducted by researchers and published in eNeuro has revealed the having eye contact activates the same area of the brain for both individuals.
  • The live condition of the scanning activity in eye contact was associated with a mutual influence that existed between the eye blinks of the partners.
  • This research is an advance over other research on eye contact and suggests real time eye contact is a preparatory state for the brain’s sharing of mental imagery.

“A new neuroimaging study reveals real time eye contact is a basis for effective social communication.”

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