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Study Shows Brain Responds More To Close Friends 66

An anonymous reader writes "People's brains are more responsive to friends than to strangers, even if the stranger has more in common, according to a study in the Oct. 13 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers examined a brain region known to be involved in processing social information, and the results suggest that social alliances outweigh shared interests. In a study led by graduate student Fenna Krienen and senior author Randy Buckner, PhD, of Harvard University, researchers investigated how the medial prefrontal cortex and associated brain regions signal someone's value in a social situation. Previous work has shown that perceptions of others' beliefs guide social interactions. Krienen and her colleagues wondered whether these brain regions respond more to those we know, or to those with whom we share similar interests."
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Study Shows Brain Responds More To Close Friends

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  • by Beerdood ( 1451859 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @05:50PM (#33888178)
    From TFA

    The authors made up biographies of similar and dissimilar strangers for each volunteer based on their personality profiles. Then, while in a scanner, they played a game similar to the TV show "The Newlywed Game," in which participants predicted how another person would answer a question. For example, would a friend or stranger prefer an aisle or window seat on a flight? The authors found activity in the medial prefrontal cortex increased when people answered questions about friends. Notably, whether the person had common interests made no difference in brain response.

    To me, this study doesn't really address whether you have more brain activity because of friends, or simply because you happen to know more information about your friends. If you're asked that sample question "would so and so prefer an aisle or window seat on a flight?" your brain has more of a 'database' of history about your friend to examine before making that decision. I.E. trying to remember if they ever flew with that person and remembering if they took that seat, or any other attempt to recall friend related information. There isn't much to think about when asking about the stranger.

    It just seems to be common knowledge that the more you knew about a person, the more you would think about what decision they would make whether they're friends or not. What if those questions were on co-workers not considered friends, celebrities, enemies or anyone else the test subject knew some information about and didn't consider a friend?

  • Re:Missing info (Score:3, Informative)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @06:06PM (#33888362) Homepage Journal

    Sorry to have to break it to you, but jokes about Facebook are too subtle for Slashdot.

    For people who missed it, the founder of Facebook is from Harvard, and there's a long-running complaint among Facebook users that there should be a "dislike" button, basically the same as the like button in terms of showing camaraderie with the poster, but applied to a negative post.

  • by greyhoundpoe ( 802148 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @10:56PM (#33889988)
    The term is "propinquity", the tendency of people to form closer friendships with those they encounter often. For example, in college, people who are assigned room near stairwells tend to end up with more friends than those whose rooms aren't in a major traffic pattern. []

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.