Publications

Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Trends Cogn Sci. 2021 Mar 19;S1364-6613(21)00055-3. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.02.011

Beyond correlation versus causation: Multi-brain neuroscience needs explanation

Recent advances in brain sciences have enabled the co-recording of multiple interacting brains (i.e., hyperscanning). This technique has led to the discovery of inter-brain synchrony (IBS) between people involved in social and interactive scenarios. In a recent article, Novembre and Iannetti argued that studies using hyperscanning to understand social behaviors are crucial but limited to correlational analysis. They further developed the idea that the causal role of IBS can only be apprehended through multi-brain stimulation (MBS). Although we agree with Novembre and Iannetti that MBS is one of the most promising methods for investigating inter-brain coupling in the future, we disagree on their radical claim that it constitutes ‘the only validated empirical approach capable of teasing apart the mechanistic from the epiphenomenal interpretation of inter-brain synchrony’. In this Letter, we defend the idea that explaining IBS in terms of causal mechanisms is possible through adequate experimental designs and computational tools, with empirical approaches ranging from multi-brains (hyperscanning) to single-brain (classic social neuroscience) recordings, and even no-brain (i.e., in silico computational social neuroscience).

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