A Vulcan mind-meld, for the uninitiated, is where you press your fingers onto someone else's face and are thus, using alien psychic powers, able to read his or her mind and even sometimes influence it. My tween love and I just wanted to touch each other's little faces, and we were unable, as it turns out, to guess what number the other was thinking of with even the accuracy that might be predicted by chance (we were probably distracted by the unbearable sexiness of emulating a nineteen-sixties sci-fi program). But as it turns out, minds do meld, a bit — and you don't even need to sensually massage someone's temples. According to Wired, Princeton neuroscientists Greg Stephens and Uri Hasson have found that when people talk, their brain activity tends to sync up — and the effect is even stronger when the talkers "experience a deep connection."
This makes intuitive sense — as Hasson points out,
If I say, ‘Do you want a coffee?' you say, ‘Yes please, two sugars.' You don't say, ‘Yes, please put two sugars in the cup of coffee that is between us.' [...] You're sharing the same lexical items, grammatical constructs and contextual framework. And this is happening not just abstractly, but literally in the brain.
It's useful not to have to spell everything out, and it's not surprising that people who feel close would synchronize even more — especially if you've ever spent time with one of those couples who finish each other's sentences. As it turns out, those couples may not be mind-readers so much as mind-copiers — their relationship makes their brains work the same way. The research might have interesting implications for the opposite case — Hasson says his team's next move is to "look at cases where there's a failure to communicate." He also thinks people probably sync up best face-to-face, and that phone or videoconference — or, presumably, Internet communication of any kind — would produce less mind-melding. If that's true, are we turning from a world of friendly semi-psychics — or, to put it a more sinister way, homogeneous mind-copiers — into one of lonely brains bashing away at computers? Whatever the case, I like my mind-melds Spock-style — it's hotter.