Studying Brain Activity in Coordinated Action
Dr. Janeen Loehr’s general research examines how people coordinate actions with other people. People have to coordinate tasks with others all the time – and probably do not realize it. Participating in a conversation with someone entails listening to what the other person is saying, formulating a response, and predicting possible outcomes. One has to predict and adapt to another’s behavior to achieve what one wants.
A piano player herself who grew up studying the Royal Conservatory of Music program, Dr. Loehr has always been interested in the actions behind musical performance. This has led Dr. Loehr to examine brain activity during duet musical performances. Players are responsible for individual actions but also must coordinate with each other to reach a shared goal in performance. If a shared goal cannot be achieved, what happens? She uses Electroencephalography (EEG) to study brain activity during the performances. Dr. Loehr is able to alter what notes a performer can hear in her testing. When manipulating the notes heard, she measures the partner’s brain response and whether it alters their subsequent actions.
According to Dr. Loehr, studying interpersonal coordination from a cognitive neuroscience perspective has only gained popularity in the last 20 years or so. Dr. Loehr’s approach of measuring the brain activity of two people at a time is far less common than singular analysis. Her research on coordinated brain activity, or studying the links between two people’s brain activity during a coordinated action, particularly in musical performance is quite unique.