New Study Shows Brains of Online Games Players Can Be In-Synch Even When Apart

During the COVID-19 pandemic, online and video games became popular as people sought ways to engage each other following mandates like social distancing. Besides entertainment, scientists have discovered that playing online games can cause players’ brains to be in-synch without being physically in contact. 

Online gaming causes the brains of players to be in-synch 

However, it is not new since past studies have shown that people’s brains tend to stimulate similarly during social interactions. Additionally, brain synchronization connects to cooperation and empathy during physical interactions. But, this is the first time scientists have identified such a relationship in online gaming.

University of Helsinki researchers observed brain synchronization when two players engaged in a game whereby they were regulating a race car together. The participants were in two separate rooms, and the scientist evaluated the connection of synchronization to performance and interaction. 

Surprisingly, inter-brain synchronization happens during interactive online gaming. Most importantly, enhanced synchrony in the alpha and gamma frequency band results in exceptional performance. Furthermore, the link between gamma synchrony and performance was continuously present. 

Researchers established that interacting brains can synchronize without face-to-face presence. Doctoral researcher Valtteri Wikstrom said they demonstrated inter-brain synchronization without the other party’s company. The findings open a chance to study the social brain mechanism’s role in the interaction. 

Online gaming can lead to the development of an “outside gaming” experience. 

It’s vital to note that much screen time has been a growing concern for most parents, teachers, and legislators, but gaming can have a positive impact. According to Project Manager Katri Saarikivi, if individuals can develop interactive online experiences that stimulate fundamental mechanisms of empathy, it can lead to enhanced well-being, better social interactions, and online productivity. 

Cooperative performance and physiological synchrony measures can assess the level of social interaction. It is possible to measure inter-brain synchronization during online gaming. The doctoral researcher indicated that developing game issues result in empathy and synchronization, which can have an “outside gaming” experience. 

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