Sensing Loneliness: How Making Eye Contact Connects Us - Yahoo News"There's something special about joint attention," says Elliot Berkman, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, of his takeaway from the Japanese study. "Joint attention is just looking at something together -- two people looking at the same thing at the same time." In addition to studying mutual gaze, or participants looking into each other's eyes, researchers looked at the effect of people's joint attention. The latter -- as with teachers and students being on the same page -- appeared to play a role in brains syncing. "Merely just looking into people's eyes didn't cause this ... synchronization of eye blink. It was really only after you had that joint attention first. So there I think it tells a very functionalist story." But compared with prior research findings, the researchers found that synchronization wasn't attributed to merely doing the same activity, either, but to mutual gaze.