Making Friends

Hey – didn’t we meet a Central Perk?

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

Wasn’t Friends the best show ever? I felt I knew Jennifer Aniston better than my own sister! But… Is that possible?

Géza Gergely Ambrus at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany and team wondered. 

They had almost ninety volunteers learn faces in one of three ways. Sorting through photographs, watching a TV show, or chatting with someone in person. The researchers recorded their brain activity both before and after they became familiar with different faces. 

Results? A unique brain signal appeared about half a second after the participants saw familiar faces. This signal was strongest when participants learned faces through in-person interactions. And almost non-existent when they learned faces through photographs! However, it doesn’t affect our ability to recognize faces. 

Scientists believe that HOW we meet people matters for our brains. It’s important to have real life interactions when we get to know new people. 

Hm. Doesn’t bode well for my “Team Welcome” work session later, the one where they meet on Zoom.

References: neural representations during face familiarization. Journal of Neuroscience.