Videoconferencing has been a lifeline during the pandemic, but Zoom fatigue has joined all-caps email messages, discussion-busting trolls, stalking by advertisements and bizarre conspiracy theory posts in the pantheon of banes of online existence. It’s not surprising when you think about how unnatural it is to have conversations while holding still for long periods of time as you stare at images flickering across a screen.

But there’s more to Zoom fatigue than awkward eye contact, lack of body language and feeling like you’re in the spotlight. Conversation itself seems to take more effort than it does in person. University of Michigan’s Julie Boland, who studies psychology and linguistics, analyzed video conversations to figure out why.

It turns out that getting in sync with someone you’re talking to is more than just a metaphor. Researchers believe your brainwaves synchronize with the speech patterns of your conversational partner, and this explains why conversation usually feels effortless. Boland’s research shows how videoconferencing throws a wrench in the gears.

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Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Conversation in person usually feels effortless. Conversation over video? Not so much. nensuria/iStock via Getty Images

Got Zoom fatigue? Out-of-sync brainwaves could be another reason videoconferencing is such a drag

Julie Boland, University of Michigan

It appears that the rhythms of your brain waves get in sync with the speech patterns of the person you’re conversing with. Videoconferencing throws off that syncing process.

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What year was the first image of Santa Claus produced?

  1. 1835
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