Elucidating the neural basis of social behavior is a long-standing challenge in neuroscience. Such endeavors are driven by attempts to extend the isolated perspective on the human brain by considering interacting persons’ brain activities, but a theoretical and computational framework for this purpose is still in its infancy. Here, we posit a comprehensive framework based on bipartite graphs for interbrain networks and address whether they provide meaningful insights into the neural underpinnings of social interactions. First, we show that the nodal density of such graphs exhibits nonrandom properties. While the current analyses mostly rely on global metrics, we encode the regions’ roles via matrix decomposition to obtain an interpretable network representation yielding both global and local insights. With Bayesian modeling, we reveal how synchrony patterns seeded in specific brain regions contribute to global effects. Beyond inferential inquiries, we demonstrate that graph representations can be used to predict individual social characteristics, outperforming functional connectivity estimators for this purpose. In the future, this may provide a means of characterizing individual variations in social behavior or identifying biomarkers for social interaction and disorders.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience