Princeton Neuroscience Prof Uri Hasson says the addictive nature of Social Media and politically aligned media intensifies our differences.

Tue, July 26, 2022. 3:00 PM

Princeton Neuroscience Prof Uri Hasson says the addictive nature of Social Media andpolitically aligned media intensifies our differences.

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Uri Hasson, a researcher at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, has shown that a good storyteller can induce synchronisation between her and her listener’s brains (if there’s shared common ground, experiences and beliefs. Hasson’s research, which uses the tools of modern neuroscience in experiments that mimic real life, points to the idea that communication is really “a single act performed by two brains.” A speaker’s brain waves generate a sound wave — speech — that in turn influences the brain responses in the listener and brings them into alignment with her own. Hasson is digging into the big questions of how we exchange ideas, thoughts, and memories with others — and, at a more fundamental level, how the mind works.

Hasson’s work on communication has also taken off outside academe; his 2016 TED talk, “This is Your Brain on Communication,” has been viewed more than 3.2 million times.

But Hasson say the social implications are dire when our chosen TV networks and social-media streams tailored to our existing beliefs and forming echo chambers that push us farther and farther apart. “You aren’t exposed to what you don’t want to see,” he says. “We’re losing common ground, and I’m not sure we can go back. The key lies elsewhere, in changing the social forces that change the brain — for example, perhaps regulating and changing the way people consume news and facts on social-media platforms, he says.