When people get along well or work on a common task, their brainwaves often vibrate in unison. This does not even require physical proximity: this phenomenon has also been proven in online games.
An interdisciplinary research team led by New York University has now discovered that brain waves also give an indication of how well people learn. To do this, a total of nine groups of four students each and one teacher were wired up with EEG electrodes in class.
brain waves recorded
The participants did not know each other beforehand. The lecturers gave short lessons on various topics. Meanwhile, the brain waves of all subjects were recorded. The researchers found that their brain waves in the alpha band of eight to twelve Hertz were largely synchronized during the lessons. A peak in the teachers was followed around 300 milliseconds later by a peak in the students. “This is consistent with the time it takes to understand spoken language,” the paper says.
They then used questionnaires to examine how much of the learning content the participants had retained. The result: the better the individual brain waves of a subject were synchronized with those of the entire group, the greater the learning success. According to the researchers, however, the individual brain waves do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the learning success. “These findings provide new clues as to the importance of collecting collective brain data from study groups simultaneously in a real-world setting,” they write.