What can we learn from a two-brain approach to verbal interaction?

Schoot, L., Hagoort, P., & Segaert, K. (2016). What can we learn from a two-brain approach to verbal interaction? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 68, 454-459. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.06.009.
Verbal interaction is one of the most frequent social interactions humans encounter on a daily basis. In the current paper, we zoom in on what the multi-brain approach has contributed, and can contribute in the future, to our understanding of the neural mechanisms supporting verbal interaction. Indeed, since verbal interaction can only exist between individuals, it seems intuitive to focus analyses on inter-individual neural markers, i.e. between-brain neural coupling. To date, however, there is a severe lack of theoretically-driven, testable hypotheses about what between-brain neural coupling actually reflects. In this paper, we develop a testable hypothesis in which between-pair variation in between-brain neural coupling is of key importance. Based on theoretical frameworks and empirical data, we argue that the level of between-brain neural coupling reflects speaker-listener alignment at different levels of linguistic and extra-linguistic representation. We discuss the possibility that between-brain neural coupling could inform us about the highest level of inter-speaker alignment: mutual understanding
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