Dynamic brain-to-brain concordance and behavioral mirroring as a mechanism of the patient-clinician interaction

Citation:

Ellingsen D-M, Isenburg K, Jung C, Lee J, Gerber J, Mawla I, Sclocco R, Jensen KB, Edwards RR, Kelley JM, Kirsch I, Kaptchuk TJ, Napadow V. Dynamic brain-to-brain concordance and behavioral mirroring as a mechanism of the patient-clinician interaction [Internet]. Science Advances 2020;6(43):eabc1304.
dm_advances.pdf2.48 MB

Abstract:

The patient-clinician interaction can powerfully shape treatment outcomes such as pain but is often considered an intangible “art of medicine” and has largely eluded scientific inquiry. Although brain correlates of social processes such as empathy and theory of mind have been studied using single-subject designs, specific behavioral and neural mechanisms underpinning the patient-clinician interaction are unknown. Using a two-person interactive design, we simultaneously recorded functional magnetic resonance imaging (hyperscanning) in patient-clinician dyads, who interacted via live video, while clinicians treated evoked pain in patients with chronic pain. Our results show that patient analgesia is mediated by patient-clinician nonverbal behavioral mirroring and brain-to-brain concordance in circuitry implicated in theory of mind and social mirroring. Dyad-based analyses showed extensive dynamic coupling of these brain nodes with the partners’ brain activity, yet only in dyads with pre-established clinical rapport. These findings introduce a putatively key brain-behavioral mechanism for therapeutic alliance and psychosocial analgesia.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 04/06/2021