Interpersonal interaction experiment run in the Platt Lab in February 2020. Participants are wearing EEG devices to measure their brain activity, as well as an eye tracking device. Moreover, we measure their heart rate, skin conductance response and respiration while they are interacting.

The pandemic clearly showed us the importance of interpersonal connection, direct eye gaze, seeing someone smile at us, and giving and receiving affectionate touch.

When we connect with someone in person, our physiology (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance response, brain waves) may start to synchronize with the physiology of the other person. This and behavioral synchrony (e.g., facial mimicry) may be a key factor underlying our feeling of “connection” with others.

In the Platt Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, we are currently investigating these processes involving synchrony and connection. I am specifically interested in studying which exercises and interventions (e.g., partner or team exercises, meditations, synchronous breathing etc.) may help enhance interpersonal connections.

We are also applying this in the business context, with the aim of building better teams and more trust in companies and organizations. For example, we collaborated with Matriarca – a sustainable project involving artisans (mostly women) from indigenous communities in Argentina. In this project, Matriarca successfully used a scientifically derived method to enhance connection between artisans in a remote context.