have identified the neural correlates of team flow, a state where
members of a team get into “the zone” to accomplish a task. The finding
could be used as a tool to predict and enhance team performance.
Source:Toyohashi University of Technology
research team led by associate professor, Mohammad Shehata at Toyohashi
University of Technology, in cooperation with researchers at the
California Institute of Technology and Tohoku University have found the
brain waves and regions sensitive to team flow compared to non-engaging
teamwork or a solo flow.
study is the world’s first attempt to study this psychological state
objectively. These neural correlates not only can be used to understand
and predict the team flow experience. The authors are working on
utilizing the findings to monitor and predict team performance.
flow is experienced when team players get “in the zone” to accomplish a
task together. Great teams experience this psychological phenomenon,
from sports to music bands and even professional work teams. When
teamwork reaches the team flow level, one can observe the team perform
in harmony, breaking their performance limits.
is essential to reproduce this state in the lab and objectively measure
it to investigate neural processing of team flow state, which has been
an enormous hurdle for decades.
at the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute
(EIIRIS) at Toyohashi University of Technology and California Institute
of Technology found ways to break such hurdles and provide first
neuroscience evidence of team flow.
researchers measured the brain activity from 10 teams using EEG 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
research team scrambled the music in other trials, which prevented a
flow state but still allowed teamwork. The participants answered
questions after each game to assess their level of flow. Moreover, the
researchers invented an objective neural method to evaluate the depth of
the team flow experience. Then, 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
Teammates also had more synchronized brain activity during the team flow state compared to the regular teamwork state.
study will provide a framework based on neural models that can be
utilized toward more effective team-building strategies in areas where
human performance and pleasure matters – business, sports, music,
performing arts, video games, and entertainment.
partnership with governmental and industrial institutions, the
researchers plan to utilize the neural signature of team flow to monitor
and enhance team performance and, perhaps, build more effective teams.
performance while maintaining enjoyment has many implications towards a
better quality of life, including lowering the rates of depression,
panic attacks, and anxiety.
work is supported by the program for promoting the enhancement of
research universities funded to Toyohashi University of Technology and
Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Fostering Joint International
Research(B), Grant Number 18KK0280) to M.S. and S.N.; and the Japan
Science and Technology (JST)-CREST Grant Number JPMJCR14E4 to S.S. M.C.
is supported by the University of Hong Kong postgraduate scholarship
program. C.T. is supported by the University of Hong Kong General
Research Fund. N.T. is supported by Australian Research Council
Discovery Projects (DP180104128 and DP180100396). A.L. is supported by
an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.