Neuro Robots

Neural Couplingneurocouplingmodel_AB

Most of this post is excerpted from Julie Beck’s recent post for the Atlantic, Life’s Stories. I wanted to pull this article apart because for me, storytelling crafting, spinning, delivering (and receiving) all in all, is an act and point of fascination, personal preference + aptitude + compulsion, and surround nostalgic trigger.

Quotes below pulled from Beck’s Life’s Stories:

  • “This narrative becomes a form of identity, in which the things someone chooses to include in the story, and the way she tells it, can both reflect and shape who she is.  A life story doesn’t just say what happened, it says why it was important, what it means for who the person is, for who they’ll become, and for what happens next.” *
  • “Sometimes in cases of extreme autism, people don’t construct a narrative structure for their lives,” says Jonathan Adler, an assistant professor of psychology at Olin College of Engineering, “but the default mode of human cognition is a narrative mode.” *
  • “The way people recount experiences to others seems to shape the way they end up remembering those events. According to Pasupathi’s research, this happens in a couple of ways.” *

All’s I wanted to do here was track the bytes I most liked about story creation and personal narrative. If you’re in the position of having a fleet of young nieces and nephews, Beck’s article really motivates me to chat up those young impressionable minds with strong visuals, multi sensory story telling and life relating sessions (examples: this song is the best and is given to us by the best band, the rain to me smells “like copper and the inside of a paper bag”, coffee almost tastes like mustard).

Hasson et al. (2011), published their study in apaper on the brain in 1997, and put it simply: “Cognition materializes in an interpersonal space.” * They were the first to really explore this idea of brain coupling. I pulled out the main argument of Hasson et al. (2011), below:

We argue that in many cases the neural processes in one brain are coupled to the neural processes in another brain via the transmission of a signal through the environment. Brain-to-brain coupling constrains and shapes the actions of each individual in a social network, leading to complex joint behaviors that could not have emerged in isolation.” *

Greg J. Stephens et al. PNAS 2010;107:14425-14430

Beck’s article got me to browse further, and I came across “neural coupling,” which was a new one for me. Defined by Nathalie Nahai, neural coupling : “whilst the speaker was communicating to the listener, both their brains showed very similar activity across widespread areas. Their brains were effectively ‘in sync’ with one another.” 


Oh, and, Holy. God. Check out this article about neural-body coupling from Yasunori Yamada! So very cool. I need to investigate before I say anything else! The image that got me to Yamada really looks like the robots created at Boston Dynamics, which will always grab my eye!

Be kind, be well, read on.

Remember, I’m not a robotics engineer or neuroscientist- just a super passionate armchair observer! I always hope you browse my Reads and References, where I site all the bits and bobs that got me to writing this public post!

Reads & References

Main image source: My own, Charles River, Boston, #sailfail. Neuro Coupling image source: Stephens, Silbert, & Hasson