Number of Facebook Friends Associated With Brain Regions

27 October, 2011 at 14:20 | Posted in Body & Mind, IT and Media, Science | Leave a comment
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Epoch Times Staff

The number of friends a person has on Facebook correlates with the size of particular regions in the brain, and may be a reflection of how many “real-world” friends people are likely to have, according to new research from University College London UCL.

The study is not causal, meaning the researchers cannot conclude whether some people naturally have more friends and larger sizes of the particular brain regions, or whether having more “virtual” friends makes the brain regions larger.

“Online social networks are massively influential, yet we understand very little about the impact they have on our brains,” said researcher Geraint Rees in a press release. “This has led to a lot of unsupported speculation that the Internet is somehow bad for us.”

The team looked at brain scans of 125 university students, who are all Facebook users, and compared the data against the size of their friend networks, both online and in the real world. They replicated their findings in another group of 40 students.

They found a strong correlation between the number of Facebook friends and the amount of gray matter in four brain regions, including the amygdala, which helps process memory and emotions.

The size of the other three regions also correlated with online social networks, but seemingly not with real-world networks.

Read more: Number of Facebook Friends Associated With Brain Regions | Science | Epoch Times


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