Posting in Science
Scientists use brain scans to reveal find out how social network popularity is linked to brain size.
Scientists at the University College London used brain scans to understand how Facebook and brain structure are related and found that the number of Facebook friends is linked to the size of certain brain regions. This may explain why some people have a few hundred friends online while other have thousands of friends on Facebook.
The researchers took brain scans of 125 college students and published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences. This is one of the first studies to look at the relationship between brain size and social networks.
The scientists also found that the number of friends people had online, usually meant they had more friends off-line.
UCL's Ryota Kanai said in a statement: "We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have - both 'real' and 'virtual'. The exciting question now is whether these structures change over time - this will help us answer the question of whether the internet is changing our brains."
In the study, the scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to produce photos of the participants’ brains. The scientists looked at certain regions associated with social perception and memory:
- The superior temporal sulcus: helps us understand how others' emotions are being directed
- The entorhinal cortex: important for memory and navigation (including online social networks).
- The middle temporal gyrus: helps people recognize known faces
The study is significant because “it shows we can use neuroscience to address questions about the effect online social networks have on the brain,” UCL’s Geraint Rees said.
However, the scientists have emphasized that they cannot tell if this means brains are hard-wired for social networks or if it is the other way around - that a large number of friends on Facebook might influence their brain structure.
Considering that Americans spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in one month and that people tweet out 250 million messages a day, understanding social media's impact on human beings will become more important as we spend more of our time communicating and connecting online.
“This should allow us to start asking intelligent questions about the relationship between the internet and the brain – scientific questions, not political ones," Rees added.
Social networks have been known to cause changes in the brains of young users - making them more self-centered and shortening their attention spans.
Due to the short, real-time nature of messages sent over Twitter, the micro-blogging site has been blamed for causing social numbness.
But here's a conclusion about social media that doesn't require a brain scan. Being social on the Internet can be rather exhausting as sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ compete for some of our attention.
via Wellcome Trust
Photo: flickr/ dan taylor
Oct 19, 2011
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125 college students is a ridiculously small sample size to infer something like that with a reasonable degree of certainty. And how the hell do these 'scientists' confirm how many 'real world friends' someone purports to have? Misleading title, btw. Even if it were true that the number of Facebook friends was positively correlated with the sizes of certain brain regions, that doesn't mean a bigger overall brain.
if the following statement in your article is true: "Social networks have been known to cause changes in the brains of young users - making them more self-centered and shortening their attention spans." Then how does having more facebook friends make you smarter as more friends will obviously equal to more time spent on facebook? Also the number of friends a person has on fb will not indicate anything as many people will choose not to 'friend' others they know or may choose to add people they don't know to raise their number of friends (the extent some people will go to, in order to appear popular is lame) or may be new users. There are these and many other issues that a scientific study must take into consideration before trying to find a link between them
Dear God, Iread the headline then I read the article in total. I am absolutley appalled at such trash trying attempting to be scientific research. Size of brain is not an indication of intellect, you onlt have to look at politicians. The article does nothing for intelligence levels, by almost applauding the fact that Americans spend 53Billion minutes a month on Facebook. One could be very unkind and make the obvious link between lack of basic intelligence and poor choices. Research is definitely needed if people are so understimulated mentally in their lives that they have to resort to the dumbing down remarks in Facebook. i could try massaging the statistics as Pure and Applied maths is my job, I could with the raw data produce a set of results that would prove statistically that the majority of UK citizens are politically ignorant, or that watching Strictly Come Dancing destroys rational though! It probably does, but that is an opinion, and what we have here from this ridiculous article is a group of scientists claiming the magic word "research" The next question as you have probably guessed, is "How much funding can we get" I rest my case.
With all due respect, this article - or rather the study - is extremely stupid. They aren't determining that brain size correlates to Facebook. They're correlating brain region size with social extroversion. Normal, run of the mill, highly social people with lots of friends. Its purely a coincidence (or rather an insanely obvious given) that people who have more friends in real life, will have a higher friend count on Facebook. The brain scans do absolutely *nothing* to determine *anything* about social networks online. Totally unrelated. Nothing tying them together.
SmartPlanet/Boonsri, please, don't propagate this kind of nonsense, or at least deliver it in a suitably ironic spirit.
I am a prolific user of Facebook having huge following. Where does my Brain power stand Boonsri Dickinson?1 Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MRI studies show reading on paper surfaces lights up superior regionsof the brain compared to screen-reading .....................Scientists have found a direct link betweenreading on paper surfaces and information processing comparedto when people read off screens, raising the possibility that usingscreens for our daily reading is an inferior method of "reading." The reading brain in terms of memory, emotional responses and criticalanalysis prefers reading off paper surfaces, such as books,magazines and hardcopy print outs, the research indicates. So far,however, it is not possible to say whether onereading mode is superior to the other, reseachers say. "The exciting question now is whether reading off paper really issuperior in terms of brain chemistry to reading off screens, -- thiswill help us answer the question of whether the Internet is changingour brains," said Astin Kawabata Sensei of University College LondonUCL.L, one of the researchers involved in the study.
I am extremely disappointed with you. If you read the very first line of the article you've linked to, it specifically states, "Scientists...have found a direct link between the number of 'Facebook friends' a person has and the SIZE OF PARTICULAR BRAIN REGIONS." It does not say, "that the number of Facebook friends is linked to brain size." And it should be an obvious conclusion anyway, that a particular region of the brain, if regularly exercised and utilized, will become larger or otherwise grow more synaptic connections. Further, it's quite obvious you're using Google / Facebook as a comparative association with intelligence (headline says: "The more Facebook friends you have, the bigger your brain is"), so we KNOW that your intention is clear: Google makes you dumb, Facebook makes you smart. But being stupid isn't the lack of ability to recall facts, as were the implication of that linked reference at The Atlantic. While true that memorization of certain data (such as the structures of language, grammar, mathematical constructs, etc) are critical towards learning, the mere suggestion that reliance on Google to recall data is a sign of dumbing down, is, well, dumb. Or at least, it is based on a lower quality of intelligence measurement. The ability to process and create, to improvise, is a sign of higher intelligence, above that of memorization.