Lyle Kingsbury’s research concerns the synchronization of neuronal activity in animals as they interact. Synchronous activity across the brains of mice, specifically in the prefrontal cortex, can predict the outcomes of some social interactions. Kingsbury found that two sets of neurons working together give rise to the synchronous activity: one set aligned with the mouse’s own behavior and the other with the behavior of its social partner. The degree of brain synchrony between two mice correlated with competitive relationships formed between them. The amount of synchrony between their brains at the beginning of the interaction could predict their hierarchical relationships: whether one mouse would dominate and the other subordinate. More hierarchical relationships were associated with greater synchrony, suggesting a potential functional role for brain synchrony in the characteristics of social relationships. Separately, Kingsbury identified patterns of neural activity associated with the sex identity of other mice, showing that activation of neurons involved in the sex‐specific signaling patterns could influence preferential behavior towards males and females.
As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, Kingsbury is studying how neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex can enable flexible adjustment of decision strategies for natural behavior, such as foraging and social interaction.