Fire-walking inspires a heart-to-heart

May 5, 2011

Fire-walkers' heart rates sync with those of onlooking family and friends during the ritualistic walk across the coals, a PNAS study finds.

Ivana Konvalinka and colleagues fitted participants and spectators with heart monitors at an annual fire-walking ceremony in San Pedro Manrique, Spain, to quantify the that underlies community rituals.

Using a , the researchers determined that changes in fire-walkers' heart rates throughout the ceremony were uniquely synchronized with those of their onlooking family members or close friends, in patterns that differed from non-related onlookers.

The technique distinguishes between the changes in and adrenaline surges that one might experience as a causal spectator from the changes experienced by onlookers who share an emotional bond with the barefoot participant.

The unique patterns, according to the authors, reflect subtle cardiac activity associated with the individuals' shared , and demonstrate that emotionally linked individuals can also be linked in physiological ways.

The investigation, the authors propose, demonstrates a new method for quantifying the physiology of shared experience that can occur during social rituals.

More information: "Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual," by Ivana Konvalinka et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011).


Related Stories

Recommended for you

Schizophrenia drug development may be 'de-risked' with new research tool

November 22, 2017
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have identified biomarkers that can aid in the development of better treatments for schizophrenia.

Study finds infection and schizophrenia symptom link

November 22, 2017
If a mother's immune system is activated by infection during pregnancy, it could result in critical cognitive deficits linked to schizophrenia in her offspring, a University of Otago study has revealed.

Self-harm, suicide attempts climb among US girls, study says

November 21, 2017
Attempted suicides, drug overdoses, cutting and other types of self-injury have increased substantially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emergency room visits found.

Car, stroller, juice: Babies understand when words are related

November 20, 2017
The meaning behind infants' screeches, squeals and wails may frustrate and confound sleep-deprived new parents. But at an age when babies cannot yet speak to us in words, they are already avid students of language.

Simple EKG can determine whether patient has depression or bipolar disorder

November 20, 2017
A groundbreaking Loyola Medicine study suggests that a simple 15-minute electrocardiogram could help a physician determine whether a patient has major depression or bipolar disorder.

Non-fearful social withdrawal linked positively to creativity

November 20, 2017
Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble, though spending too much time alone can be unhealthy and there is growing evidence that the psychosocial effects of too much solitude can last a lifetime.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.