The Science of Eye Gazing: What Happens When You Stare Into Someone’s Eyes

Couples will sometimes look to find ways of creating intimacy. A study conducted this year may point the way to a remarkable finding: all you have to do is stare into your partners eyes.

The research, published in Neuroimage, found that prolonged eye contact actually synchronizes brain activity between two people.close-eye-contact

The scientists conducting the study had the intent of examining what happens in the brain during face-to-face eye contact, such as the attention given to a conversation participant in the work or school-related world.

They matched up 96 strangers and had them hold eye contact for extended periods of time while MRIs scanned the subjects’ brains for activity.

What they found was that blinking became synchronized and that a portion of the brain known as the right inferior front gyrus lit up with activity in both people. According to the authors, this finding suggested that mutually-held eye contact bound people into a “singular connected system.”

“Based on the enhancement of behavioral and neural synchronization during mutual gaze, we now know that shared attention is hard to establish without eye contact,” Norihiro Sadato, senior study author, told Psych Central.

This research has implications not only for our work lives, but also for our love lives. It’s often been said that people can fall in love when gazing into another’s eyes.


This was reinforced by a story found in the Modern Love column by Mandy Len Catron. The author replicated an experiment by psychologist Arthur Aron, which went something like this:

“A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors,” she wrote. “They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions.

Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.”

Carlton had a crush and decided to try out this experiment personally. Long story short, on their first date they tried some intimate relationship-building exercises, including four minutes of uninterrupted eye-contact, and found themselves in love!

In addition, a recent video on YouTube went running with this inspiration. They recruited six pairs of people in varying relationships (from strangers to long-married) to try the prolonged eye-gazing. The results are incredible, check it out!

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