The more friends you have, the bigger certain regions of your brain may be, a small new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Oxford found that people who have wider social networks may also have greater grey matter in certain regions of the brain, as well as increased connectivity between brain regions. Brain regions that seem to be especially affected by this include the anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
For the study, researchers conducted brain scans on 18 participants, who were also asked about the number of people they interacted with over the past month (an indicator of the size of their social networks).
Indeed, an association was found between size of certain brain regions, connectivity between brain regions and the size of the participants’ social networks.
However, the researchers noted that only an association was observed — it’s not known if having a big social network then has an impact on your brain, or if people who have brains with these bigger regions and greater connectivity are better able to handle large social networks, thus making them more likely to have lots of social connections.
The findings are presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.