Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Big Is Your Facebook Friend List?

So, just how big is your Facebook friend list and why does it matter? Researchers have made correlations between brain size and the number of people on a person's Facebook page. 

According to research, when people had high numbers of Facebook friends, the researchers noted that certain regions of the brain were larger. Those regions included the superior temporal sulcus and the middle temporal gyrus, both of which process and interpret basic social signals. 

The entorhinal cortex, which pairs up names and faces, and the amygdalae, which helps us recognize emotional facial expressions were also areas potentially enlarged or because of their prior enlargement, enabled a Facebook user to interact socially with more people. 

Analysis of anonymous user data (basically, the data most Facebook users feel is being compiled on everyone) has shown that most users mutually communicate with only about 10 - 20% of their friends every month, even if they have 500+ FB friends with whom to interact. Women reportedly interact with between four (if they have 50 friends) and sixteen (if they have 500+) friends on Facebook; the numbers are slightly lower for men (3 to 10). 

You could interpret someone with a large number of Facebook friends as being more social, but it isn't necessarily the case. There are people who have a large number of Facebook friends but whom rarely communicate or interact. 

Now, whether this person or the highly active person has a larger amygdalae is unknown. Given the brain cannot distinguish between real vs. imagined experiences, the brain regions register the same areas irrespective of whether the interaction is real or virtual.

So, if you want to physically train your brain to take in more information and strengthen regions of your brain's motor cortex, add a new Facebook friend today and enjoy the benefits of a BIGGER BRAIN! 

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