Interesting for other reasons

This new study at PNAS caught my eye. The title implies an actual resonance:

Neural synchronization predicts marital satisfaction

After buying and reading the article, it’s not about phaselocked waveforms, it’s about brain regions activating at the same time. Still somewhat interesting.

The details of the subjects and researchers are more interesting.

The team was all Chinese. Part were working at the Wu Tsai Neuroscience Center at Stanford, part at various Chinese universities. Do you think there’s a John Eccles Neuroscience Centre at any Chinese university? Not a chance.

The subjects were explicitly described as all Han Chinese, middle-aged married couples and unmarried people of the same age range. Do you think any Western researchers would even accidentally restrict subjects to Anglo-Saxons? Not a chance.

Aside from that, Mrs Mao, the study missed the primary driver of the sync patterns.

Pairs, some married and some random, watched a set of 12 short video clips. Six of the clips showed married people dealing with everyday life problems. Six were non-marital. (Chinese architecture, Chinese flowers, Chinese space exploration, etc.)  Do you think, etc.

Conclusion: There was a sharp difference between the married and random pairs, and a sharp difference between marital videos and random videos. The married couples showed  matched patterns of brain excitation when watching marital videos. The random pairs didn’t match for either type of video.

The correlations are nice and clear:

The patterns strike me as secondary. They’re looking only at activation in the cortex:

Responding to a sequence of conversations and actions evokes specific stored sequences in the cerebellum. Those sequences fire off at a specific rate, sending waves out through the association fibers into the cortex. What we’re seeing on the cortex is a lot like Chladni patterns, varying with the underlying pattern of formants and shaped by the association fibers.

The married couples show similar nodes and antinodes on the surface because they’ve developed nearly identical sequencers by participating together in the conversations and actions implied by the videos. The identical sequences have gradually shaped identical association patterns as well.

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