Team flow is a unique brain state associated with enhanced information integration and interbrain synchrony

Mohammad Shehata, Miao Cheng, Angus Leung, Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Daw An Wu, Chia Huei Tseng, Shigeki Nakauchi, Shinsuke Shimojo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Team flow occurs when a group functions in a high task engagement to achieve a goal, commonly seen in performance and sports. Team flow can enable enhanced positive experiences, as compared with individual flow or regular socializing. However, the neural basis for this enhanced behavioral state remains unclear. Here, we identified neural correlates (NCs) of team flow in human participants using a music rhythm task with electroencephalogram hyperscanning. Experimental manipulations held the motor task constant while disrupting the corresponding hedonic music to interfere with the flow state or occluding the partner’s positive feedback to impede team interaction. We validated these manipulations by using psychometric ratings and an objective measure for the depth of flow experience, which uses the auditory-evoked potential (AEP) of a task-irrelevant stimulus. Spectral power analysis at both the scalp sensors and anatomic source levels revealed higher b-g power specific to team flow in the left middle temporal cortex (L-MTC). Causal interaction analysis revealed that the L-MTC is downstream in information processing and receives information from areas encoding the flow or social states. The L-MTC significantly contributes to integrating information. Moreover, we found that team flow enhances global interbrain integrated information (II) and neural synchrony. We conclude that the NCs of team flow induce a distinct brain state. Our results suggest a neurocognitive mechanism to create this unique experience.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberENEURO.0133-21.2021
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sep 1


  • EEG
  • Flow
  • Hyperscanning
  • In the zone
  • Neural synchrony
  • Teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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