Herding Brains: A Core Neural Mechanism for Social Alignment

Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Nira Saporta, Inbar Z. Marton-Alper, Hila Z. Gvirts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


When we clap our hands in synchrony, feel the sadness of a friend, or match our attitudes to peer norms, we align our behavior with others. We propose here a model that views synchronized movement, emotional contagion, and social conformity as interrelated processes that rely on shared neural networks. Building on the predictive coding framework, we suggest that social alignment is mediated by a three-component feedback loop – an error-monitoring system that reacts to misalignment, an alignment system, and a reward system that is activated when alignment is achieved. We describe herding-related syndromes (autism, loneliness) and call for innovative research to investigate the links between the levels of alignment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-186
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • autism
  • conformity
  • emotional contagion
  • herding
  • interpersonal synchrony
  • loneliness


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