Fire-walking inspires a heart-to-heart

May 5, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

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.