News Release

The unique brain state of team flow

The neural signature may be a tool to predict and enhance team performance

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Society for Neuroscience

The Unique Brain State of Team Flow

image: The unique neural correlates of team flow. The left middle temporal cortex (L-MTC, green region) is uniquely activated during team flow state. The prefrontal frontal cortex (PFC, blue region) and the inferior frontal cortex (IFC, yellow region) are activated during the flow only (Flow) and team only (Team) states, respectively. During team flow, the L-MTC causally receives more information (black arrows) from the contralateral, shown here as ipsilateral for simplicity, PFC and IFC. The L-MTC is significantly involved in higher inter-brain integrated information (green line) and higher inter-brain neural synchrony (tan wavy line) during team flow. view more 

Credit: Shehata et al., eNeuro 2021

The experience of team flow, when a group gets “in the zone” to accomplish a task together, has its own unique brain state, distinct from that of teamwork or solo flow, according to new research published in eNeuro.

Shehata et al. used EEG to measure the brain activity of teams of two while they played a music video game together. In some trials, a partition separated the teammates so they couldn’t see each other while they played, allowing a solo flow state but preventing team flow. In other trials, the research team scrambled the music, which prevented a flow state but still allowed teamwork. Participants answered questions after each game to assess their level of flow. The researchers compared the brain activity of the participants during each condition. They found a unique signature of team flow: increased beta and gamma brain waves in the middle temporal cortex, a type of brain activity linked to information processing. Teammates also had more synchronized brain activity during the team flow state compared to the regular teamwork state. In future work, the researchers plan to utilize the neural signature of team flow to monitor and enhance team performance and, perhaps, build more effective teams.


Paper title: Team Flow Is a Unique Brain State Associated With Enhanced Information Integration and Inter-Brain Synchrony

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About eNeuro

eNeuro is an online, open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience. Established in 2014, eNeuro publishes a wide variety of content, including research articles, short reports, reviews, commentaries and opinions.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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