Can we objectively study if two people are in psychological contact with each other? Theoretically, it should be possible if we use the latest concepts/methods in social neuroscience, but to this date, no mathematical model has passed the test. In collaboration with several departments at Umeå University and the University of Arizona, we focus on the mathematical challenges of relational studies, as part of a project called the Mathematics of Two becoming One (MoTO).
Imagine a game of soccer with eleven players on each team. Suppose you have data for all 22 players, perhaps energy level on a scale of 1-10 with data points every 10th of a second. Can you identify if the players are playing together or playing separately but just so happen to be on the same field, i.e. is it one system or two?
This is a topic of novel research on the ultrasocial human. Social neuroscience is on the verge of abandoning the dead end of “inter-brain synchronicity”, “specific brain regions” and “brain studied in isolation” in favor of more valid models of dynamic systems and whole brain interwovenness.
Soon, we will be able to gather great interactional hyperscanning brain-data in the new lab at the University of Arizona. The most pressing task is then to solve the soccer game problem where each player on a team represents a different brain area in one person’s brain. We have the theory of Social Breathing, and the data, but will novel mathematics be able to deliver and allow us to detect how two brains become a multi-brain system? If this works, the impact will be immense on several areas.
This project addresses a very fundamental and novel research topic on the human social capacity. In both technical and methodological developments there has been a shift from synchrony to temporal dynamics, from individual to dyadic, from cognitivism/ToM to embodied/enactment, from the observing brain to second person neuroscience, a shift that reflects the present changes in technical and methodological development and cross-theoretical endeavors.
A statement: “This makes the case for combining abundant neuroimaging resources and machine-learning statistics to design a nomenclature of social cognition directly derived from brain recordings” (Alcala-Lopez m.fl., 2018). We have both hyperscanning data and a theory, but will Mathematics be able to deliver?
We have introduced the concept of Social Breathing as a term for "the ability to engage and maintain the interactive psychological weave". This concept is in line with the paradigm shift from synchrony to temporal dynamics, from individual to dyadic, from cognitivism/ToM to embodied/enactment, from the observing brain to second person neuroscience, a shift that reflects the present changes in technical and methodological development and cross theoretical endeavors. This also gives at hand that we may study “the interactive psychological weave”, a multi-brain network that is autonomous, mutual, implicit, temporal and embodied. To make the case more concrete we present “The soccer game metaphor” and introduce MoTO as a path forward.