Bats' brains sync when they socialize | 2/8/2018 | Staff
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The phrase "we're on the same wavelength" may be more than just a friendly saying: A new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers shows that bats' brain activity is literally in sync when bats engage in social behaviors like grooming, fighting or sniffing each other.

"Whenever the bats were socially interacting, you could see these very robust correlations in brain activity," said Michael Yartsev, an assistant professor of neurobiology and bioengineering at UC Berkeley.

Study - June - Journal - Cell - Brain

This study, appearing June 20 in the journal Cell, is the first to observe synchronized brain activity in a non-human species engaging in natural social interactions. The finding opens the door to future study on how our brains process social interactions and has potential implications for understanding diseases, like autism, that affect social behavior.

"This is a very core phenomenon that, for two decades, people have been excited about in humans," Yartsev said. "Now that we've observed it in an animal model, it opens the door to very detailed research of it."

Correlations - Brain - Activity - Humans - Studies

While some correlations have been found between brain activity in socializing humans, human studies have been limited to using brain imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which does not measure electrical activity directly, or electroencephalography (EEG), which is typically limited to measuring low frequency brain waves.

In the study, Yartsev and Berkeley postdoctoral scholar Wujie Zhang used wireless neural recording devices to measure the brain activity of Egyptian fruit bats while the bats freely interacted in a chamber. The researchers' recording devices allowed them to capture what fMRI and EEG techniques cannot—signals that include the bats' higher frequency brain waves, as well as electrical activity from individual neurons.

Correlations - Bats - Brains - Brain - Waves

They found surprisingly strong correlations between the bats' brains, especially for brain waves in the high frequency band. These correlations were present whenever the bats shared a social...
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