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Publication Detail
Are You on My Wavelength? Interpersonal Coordination in Dyadic Conversations
Conversation between two people involves subtle nonverbal coordination in addition to speech. However, the precise parameters and timing of this coordination remain unclear, which limits our ability to theorize about the neural and cognitive mechanisms of social coordination. In particular, it is unclear if conversation is dominated by synchronization (with no time lag), rapid and reactive mimicry (with lags under 1 s) or traditionally observed mimicry (with several seconds lag), each of which demands a different neural mechanism. Here we describe data from high-resolution motion capture of the head movements of pairs of participants (nā€‰=ā€‰31 dyads) engaged in structured conversations. In a pre-registered analysis pathway, we calculated the wavelet coherence of head motion within dyads as a measure of their nonverbal coordination and report two novel results. First, low-frequency coherence (0.2ā€“1.1 Hz) is consistent with traditional observations of mimicry, and modeling shows this behavior is generated by a mechanism with a constant 600 ms lag between leader and follower. This is in line with rapid reactive (rather than predictive or memory-driven) models of mimicry behavior, and could be implemented in mirror neuron systems. Second, we find an unexpected pattern of lower-than-chance coherence between participants, or hypo-coherence, at high frequencies (2.6ā€“6.5 Hz). Exploratory analyses show that this systematic decoupling is driven by fast nodding from the listening member of the dyad, and may be a newly identified social signal. These results provide a step towards the quantification of real-world human behavior in high resolution and provide new insights into the mechanisms of social coordination.
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