People With Bigger Brains Have More Facebook Friends

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Here is some weird news that you can brag about, if you happen to be one of the privileged few with many, many Facebook friends and a giant brain. Actually, you should probably post this information, along with a photo of your brain, on your Facebook wall -- we hear that's the way to get even more friends! According to a study done by researchers at University College London, not only are certain regions of many-friended Facebook users' brains bigger, the big-brainers also have more real-world friends.

The larger regions were the amygdala, a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses -- it's also bigger in situations in which people have a lot of real-life friends -- as well as the right superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the right entorhinal cortex, which "did not appear to correlate with real-world networks."

How was this study done?

The UCL researchers asked their volunteers questions such as 'How many people would send a text message marking a celebratory event (e.g. Birthday, new job, etc.)?', 'What is the total number of friends in your phonebook?' and 'How many friends have you kept from school and university that you could have a friendly conversation with now?' The responses suggest that the size of their online networks also related to the size of their real world networks.

This is possibly because most of their Facebook friends actually were their real friends.

However! Researchers don't know if this means that having more Facebook friends makes your brain bigger, or if certain people naturally just have bigger brain regions, making them, apparently, like honey to the flies of Facebook. Or whatever the metaphor you choose. The question scientists must continue to consider is: Is the Interent changing our brains? Our are our brains changing the Internet?

Big-Brained People Have More Facebook Friends [Gizmodo via EurekAlert]

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

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2 comments
DanbloomATgmailDOTcom
DanbloomATgmailDOTcom

MRI studies show reading on paper surfaces lights up superior regionsof the brain compared to screen-reading.....................Scientists have found a direct link betweenreading on paper surfaces and information processing comparedto when people read off screens, raising the possibility that usingscreens for our daily reading is an inferior method of "reading."The reading brain in terms of memory, emotional responses and criticalanalysis prefers reading off paper surfaces, such as books,magazines and hardcopy print outs, the research indicates. So far,however, it is not possible to say whether onereading mode is superior to the other, reseachers say."The exciting question now is whether reading off paper really issuperior in terms of brain chemistry to reading off screens, -- thiswill help us answer the question of whether the Internet is changingour brains," said Astin Kawabata Sensei of University College LondonUCL.L, one of the researchers involved in the study.Sensei and colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging (f)MRI to studythe brains of 125 university students, reading on bothpaper and off screens. They discovered that reading off paper surfacesis superior in terms of the "grey matter" in the amygdala, the rightsuperior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the rightentorhinal cortex. Grey matter is the layer of brain tissue wheremental processing occurs."If our research pans out, it will mean big trouble for the computerand reading device industry," said Grant Lee of UCL."This shows we can use some of the powerful tools in modernneuroscience to address important questions -- namely, what are theeffects of reading on screens to my brain. It appears that reading onpaper lights up different and superior regions of the brain comparedto when I readoff a screen on an iPad or a computer."The study results were published on Wednesday in the journalProceedings of the Royal Society of The Reading Brain.Heidi-Sally Bloom of the University of Oxford, who was not involved inthe research, said the findings were intriguing but did not mean thatthey are true or even useful."We still need more studies on this using PET brain scan machines,too," she said. "The current study cannot tell us whether reading offscreens is good or bad for our brains."

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