Research suggests that there is a strong connection between the number of Facebook friends one has and the size of certain parts of the individual’s brain, according to scientists from the University College London (UCL).
“We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have – both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’,” said Dr. Ryota Kanai, a neuroscience researcher and study author from UCL.
Kanai and scientists of the study “Online Social Network Size is Reflected in Human Brain Structure,” released its findings in the Oct. 18 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The findings show that people with more Facebook friends have more gray matter density in several parts of the brain, including the amygdala, the entorhinal cortex, the left middle temporal gyrus, and the right superior temporal sulcus.
Gray matter is neural tissue found in the brain and spinal cord. In the brain, it is a major component of muscle control and sensory perception and is often associated with human intelligence and intellect.
To gather this data, researchers collected magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of 125 college students who use Facebook. Their online friendship networks and real-life social groups were also analyzed. These images were then compared with those from a separate group of 40 college students.
The average number of Facebook friends for the students in the study was 500. Many had fewer.
Additionally, researchers concluded that individuals with more Facebook friends tend to have more “real-life” friends. The amygdala, the part of the brain associated with memory process and emotional response, is larger in area with people who have more friends both online and in the real world.
Does this mean a person who adds 100 more friends on Facebook will get smarter over night? I highly doubt it.
- Facebook Friends Don’t Let Friends Forget Them (fastcompany.com)
- More Facebook friends linked to bigger brain areas (scorpsshadow.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Friends: The More You’ve Got, the Smarter You Are? (news.dice.com)
- More Facebook friends linked to bigger brain areas | Reuters (reuters.com)
- Number of Facebook ‘friends’ linked to brain size: scientists (news.nationalpost.com)