Tech UPTechnologyYour brain reveals who your friends are

Your brain reveals who your friends are

Friends perceive the world in a similar way to us and respond in a similar way to stimuli in the real world, according to a study from Dartmouth University (USA) that finds that friends have similar neural responses and these similarities can be use to predict who our friends are. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

The researchers found that it is possible to predict which people can be considered your friends simply by observing how their brains respond to watching videos. In the experiment, friends had the most similar neural activity patterns, followed by friends of friends who, in turn, had more closely related neural activity than people three degrees apart (friends of friends of friends).

The study is the first of its kind to examine the connections between people’s neural activity within a real-world social network, as participants responded to real-world stimuli, which in this case were watching the same set of videos .

The brain’s response is similar

“Neural responses to dynamic and natural stimuli, such as video, can provide a window into people’s spontaneous and spontaneous thought processes as they develop. Our results suggest that friends process the world around them in exceptional ways. similar, “says lead author Carolyn Parkinson.

The study looked at friendships or social ties within a cohort of nearly 280 graduate students . The researchers calculated the social distance between pairs of individuals based on the social ties previously discussed. They asked 42 of the students to watch a series of videos while their neural activity was recorded on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.


The videos covered a wide variety of topics and genres, including politics, science, comedy and music, for which different responses were expected. Each participant watched the same videos in the same order , with the same instructions. Then, they compared the neural responses.


The results showed that the neural responses of the brain areas involved in interpreting the environment and the sensory response were more similar among friends than among people who were less close. Thus, the further apart two people were within the network of social ties, the more this coincidence decreased.


These findings occurred even when the researchers controlled for variables such as being right- or left-handed, age, gender, ethnicity and nationality … the similarity in neural activity between friends was still evident. The team also found that similarities in response to fMRI could be used to predict not only whether a couple was friends, but also the social distance between the two.

“We are a social species and we live our lives connected to everyone else. If we want to understand how the human brain works, then we have to understand how brains work in combination, how minds mold each other,” explains Thalia Wheatley, co-author of the work. .

The experts plan to explore whether we tend to approach people who see the world in the same way as we do, whether we become more alike once we share experiences, or whether the two dynamics are mutually reinforcing.

Reference: Carolyn Parkinson, Adam M. Kleinbaum, Thalia Wheatley. “Similar neural responses predict friendship”. Nature Communications, January 2018.

Image credit: Carolyn Parkinson

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