Hyper-transcranial alternating current stimulation: Experimental manipulation of inter-brain synchrony

Caroline Szymanski, Viktor Müller, Timothy R. Brick, Timo von Oertzen, Ulman Lindenberger

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25 Scopus citations


We walk together, we watch together, we win together: Interpersonally coordinated actions are omnipresent in everyday life, yet the associated neural mechanisms are not well understood. Available evidence suggests that the synchronization of oscillatory activity across brains may provide a mechanism for the temporal alignment of actions between two or more individuals. In an attempt to provide a direct test of this hypothesis, we applied transcranial alternating current stimulation simultaneously to two individuals (hyper-tACS) who were asked to drum in synchrony at a set pace. Thirty-eight female-female dyads performed the dyadic drumming in the course of 3 weeks under three different hyper-tACS stimulation conditions: same-phase-samefrequency; different-phase-different-frequency; sham. Based on available evidence and theoretical considerations, stimulation was applied over right frontal and parietal sites in the theta frequency range. We predicted that same-phase-same-frequency stimulation would improve interpersonal action coordination, expressed as the degree of synchrony in dyadic drumming, relative to the other two conditions. Contrary to expectations, both the same-phase-same-frequency and the different-phase-differentfrequency conditions were associated with greater dyadic drumming asynchrony relative to the sham condition. No influence of hyper-tACS on behavioral performance was seen when participants were asked to drum separately in synchrony to a metronome. Individual and dyad preferred drumming tempo was also unaffected by hyper-tACS. We discuss limitations of the present version of the hyper-tACS paradigm, and suggest avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number539
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 8 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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