Brain-to-brain communication during musical improvisation: a performance case study

Mauricio A. Ramírez-Moreno, Jesús G. Cruz-Garza, Akanksha Acharya, Girija Chatufale, Woody Witt, Dan Gelok, Guillermo Reza, José L. Contreras-Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Understanding and predicting others' actions in ecological settings is an important research goal in social neuroscience. Here, we deployed a mobile brain-body imaging (MoBI) methodology to analyze inter-brain communication between professional musicians during a live jazz performance. Specifically, bispectral analysis was conducted to assess the synchronization of scalp electroencephalographic (EEG) signals from three expert musicians during a three-part 45 minute jazz performance, during which a new musician joined every five minutes. The bispectrum was estimated for all musician dyads, electrode combinations, and five frequency bands. The results showed higher bispectrum in the beta and gamma frequency bands (13-50 Hz) when more musicians performed together, and when they played a musical phrase synchronously. Positive bispectrum amplitude changes were found approximately three seconds prior to the identified synchronized performance events suggesting preparatory cortical activity predictive of concerted behavioral action. Moreover, a higher amount of synchronized EEG activity, across electrode regions, was observed as more musicians performed, with inter-brain synchronization between the temporal, parietal, and occipital regions the most frequent. Increased synchrony between the musicians' brain activity reflects shared multi-sensory processing and movement intention in a musical improvisation task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number989
StatePublished - 2022


  • Brain on arts
  • brain-to-brain synchrony
  • hyperscanning
  • musical improvisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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