Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs SoRAD, Stockholm University
Coordination through synchronization
Biological systems often consist of multiple interacting subsystems. An important step in the analysis of such systems is to uncover how the activity of the subsystems are coordinated to generate purpose and meaningful action. A prominent example of a biological system with interacting subsystems is the brain, having interconnected units at many different levels of description: e.g. neurons, microcircuits, and brain regions. It is the current belief that much of what we associate with brain function comes about through coordinated interactions between these different subsystems, and to characterize these interactions and their effects is one of the greatest challenges of the Neurosciences.
One of the best understood mechanisms of coordination is synchronization, roughly meaning that activities in different subsystems are time-locked to each other. Synchronous activity is ubiquitous in the nervous system and is found at many different scales of measurement. The synchronous activity has been associated with different functions, including consciousness, but there is little consensus about the role of synchronization in brain function.
Social systems can also be thought of in terms of interacting units (agents). In this case both units, and their interactions, are much more complex than what is the case in the nervous system. Still, synchronous activity between different agents has been shown to occur and to have non-trivial consequences.
In our project we will draw on results from the large body of theoretical and experimental works on synchronization to create a situation where the audience is invited to interact with each other and with external equipment through their coordinated activity. We are currently in the development phase.