Friendly Brains

Women forming heart gestures during daytime in a grass field

Birds of a feather flock together. But how about us humans?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Do you and your besties share a love of knitting? Schlocky horror movies? Barbershop quartets? Sure, but just how alike are you?

Ryan Hyon from UCLA and colleagues traveled to a remote South Korean island to find out!

Over eight hundred residents live in a rural village on this island. The researchers surveyed almost six hundred of them to map out their social network. Residents answered questions about how often they socialize and how close their friends are.

Then, almost seventy participants got their brains scanned while resting.

The scan showed that people’s brains lit up in certain areas. And surprisingly, the closer they were in the social network, the more similar their brain scans! This was not affected by their age, gender, or personality traits.

Hyon believes that our brains and our friendships influence EACH OTHER. Brain activities may help predict if people are likely to become friends.

I wonder – is there a “frenemy” scan? Might be even more useful!

References: Hyon, R., Youm, Y., Kim, J., Chey, J., Kwak, S., & Parkinson, C. (2020). Similarity in functional brain connectivity at rest predicts interpersonal closeness in the social network of an entire village. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(52), 33149–33160.