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?