This is your brain on communication (Uri Hasson)

In this TED talk, Professor Uri Hasson at Princeton presents his findings on human brain activities during verbal communication. He explains how people’s brains “click” when they deliver or receive speeches.

For me, the real twist is when he reveals that as two groups of people hear the same conversation, but each group was told a different piece of prior information, members of each group show similar brain activities to others in the same group, but significantly different from those of the other group. This reminds me of the concept of “priming” in psychological experiments. For some examples of how this is done, please read the book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Professor Dan Ariely. It is a very good book, written by an outstanding psychologist.

So, the take home message for me is that we shouldn’t expect people to have the same idea as ours only because they’ve heard the same piece of information as us. This is a reiteration of an old concept: people have different backgrounds that affect their views.

Now, I’m curious whether these results extend to written communication too. I should find some time to read the original paper.

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