Skip to Content

Facebook Users With More Friends Also Have Bigger Brains


Washington, Oct 19 (ANI): A new study has found a direct link between the number of "Facebook friends" a person has and the size of particular brain regions.


Researchers at University College London (UCL) also found that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more "real-world" friends they are likely to have.


However, the researchers are keen to stress that they have found a correlation and not a cause: in other words, it is not possible from the data to say whether having more Facebook friends makes the regions of the brain larger or whether some people are "hard-wired" to have more friends.


"Online social networks are massively influential, yet we understand very little about the impact they have on our brains. This has led to a lot of unsupported speculation the internet is somehow bad for us," said Professor Geraint Rees, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow at UCL.


"Our study will help us begin to understand how our interactions with the world are mediated through social networks. This should allow us to start asking intelligent questions about the relationship between the internet and the brain - scientific questions, not political ones," he added.


Professor Rees and colleagues at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging studied brain scans of 125 university students - all active Facebook users - and compared them against the size of the students' network of friends, both online and in the real world.


They found a strong connection between the number of Facebook friends an individual had and the amount of grey matter in several regions of the brain.


Grey matter is the brain tissue where the processing is done. One of these regions was the amygdala, a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses.


A previous study had revealed that the volume of grey matter in this area is larger in people with a larger network of real world friends - the latest study found that the same is true for people with a larger network of online friends.


The study also suggested that the size of their online networks also related to the size of their real world networks.


Their study was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)




Posted: October 2011