ComArtSci Hosts Third Annual International Summer School Conference

From May 30th - June 4th, ComArtSci’s Communication Department hosted the 2017 Annual International Summer School conference. The theme for this year’s event was Synchronization in Communication Systems.

Research on synchrony dates back to the 17th century when Dutch scientist Christian Huygen discovered that barely detectable motion in floorboards led pendulums to synchronize, the topic of synchrony has become much more well-known. Synchrony has been used to explain how people's limbs become entrained during dance or military drills, how strangers develop rapport and cooperation and how movements with a virtual character can reduce outgroup prejudice.

The third annual summer school addressed the role of synchrony as a fundamental construct for communication science by bringing together scholars from the fields of communication, computer science, neuroscience, complex systems and cognitive and social psychology. Topics included research in neural, motor, physiological, virtual reality synchrony and communication research. Throughout its five days, the summer school provided advanced training and mentoring for young researchers at the hands of some of the biggest names in synchrony research.

“This is the third year of the conference. The first year was hosted by the University of Cologne, and the second year was hosted by Nanyang Technological University,” said Lindsay Hahn, one of the graduate student coordinators for the Sync Conference. “It's a great opportunity for us to be able to host it this year because we've brought scholars and students in from all over the world to be here, including the U.S., Germany, China and Singapore. In addition, we have gotten the chance to showcase our new motion capture/virtual reality lab (room 29 of ComArtSci) to all attendees.”

A handful of MSU professors presented at the event:

  • John Sherry - Synchronization as a Communication Construct
  • Devin McAuley - A Lifespan Perspective on Entrainment and Attentional Dynamics
  • Ralf Schmaelzle - Engaged listeners and tuned in viewers: How media messages synchronize their audience
  • Jingbo Meng - Synchrony in online health social networks for behavior change
  • Josh Introne - Causal coherence and narrative convergence in online social networks
  • Winson Peng - Convergence and Divergence of Public Attention on Social Media

Over a dozen MSU students also presented at the conference. Hahn encourages students, both inside and outside ComArtSci, to get involved in next year’s conference.

“Information about next year's conference would be posted in the coming months on our twitter account: @syncMSU,” said Hahn. “Interested parties could also email us at to be added to a mailing list for updates.”

By Katie Kochanny