Jiang et al do a neat bit of work showing how modern hi-tech dialog devices fail to engage the evolved brain and body synchronization that accompanies face-to-face dialog.
Although the human brain may have evolutionarily adapted to face-to-face communication, other modes of communication, e.g., telephone and e-mail, increasingly dominate our modern daily life. This study examined the neural difference between face-to-face communication and other types of communication by simultaneously measuring two brains using a hyperscanning approach. The results showed a significant increase in the neural synchronization in the left inferior frontal cortex during a face-to-face dialog between partners but none during a back-to-back dialog, a face-to-face monologue, or a back-to-back monologue. Moreover, the neural synchronization between partners during the face-to-face dialog resulted primarily from the direct interactions between the partners, including multimodal sensory information integration and turn-taking behavior. The communicating behavior during the face-to-face dialog could be predicted accurately based on the neural synchronization level. These results suggest that face-to-face communication, particularly dialog, has special neural features that other types of communication do not have and that the neural synchronization between partners may underlie successful face-to-face communication.