Using communication to modulate neural synchronization in teams

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Dunbar, Terri
Gorman, Jamie C.
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Trainers often assess team processes in conjunction with team performance outcomes to identify which behaviors contributed to the success or failure of the team during training. A current topic in team research is developing covert measures, which are easier to analyze in real-time, to identify team processes as they occur during training; however, little is known about how exactly overt and covert measures of team process relate to one another. In my thesis, I investigated the relationship between overt and covert measures of team process by manipulating the interaction partner (participant or experimenter) team members worked with and the type of task (decision-making or action-based) teams performed to assess their effects on team neural synchronization (measured as neurodynamic entropy) and communication (measured as both flow and content). The results indicated that the type of task affected how the teams dynamically structured their communication but had no effect on the neural synchronization of the team when averaged across the task session. The interaction partner also had no effect on team neural synchronization when averaged. However, there were significant relationships over time between neural synchronization and the communication flow and content due to both the type of task and the interaction partner. Specifically, significant relationships across time were observed when participants were interacting with the other participant, during the second task trial, and across different areas of the cortex in the beta frequency depending on the type of task being performed. The findings from the time series analysis extend my previous work on task constraints and communication dynamics by illustrating that the interaction partner and the team’s task constraints also structure the relationship between team communication and neural synchronization across time, suggesting that these need to be taken into account when developing covert measures of team process.
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