Brain patterns of friends are similar
The love from a good friendship is special in many ways, but mostly because our best friends just “get” us. Hardly anything needs explaining because we think alike to the point where we could finish each other’s sentences. That’s great, but where does this unique connection come from? Science is now showing that friends are drawn together not just because they like the same kind of music or activities, but because their brains are wired the same way.
Researchers at Dartmouth University conducted a social network survey of 280 students, asking them to list their various friends. The Researchers then constructed an interconnected friendship map of those students with each point representing a person and every line between points representing a connection or friendship. From that group, 42 students were randomly chosen to watch a series of videos involving subjects such as comedy, politics, music, and science, while their brains were tracked by an MRI scan.
Not only did results show that the same brain patterns “lit up” in the same areas linked to motivation, attention, and judgment in close friends when exposed to the same material, but that the similarity was proportional to social distance. In other words, the less well-known someone was to a student on the friendship map, such as a friend-of-a-friend or even further removed, the weaker the similarity in the brain activity patterns was. These findings remained consistent even after controlling for other factors that can determine friendships like age and sex. Ultimately, the brain scan similarities were so strong that researchers could match up close friends just by using their scan images and without referring back to the friendship map.1
What researchers don’t know is why close friends responded to the same material the way that they did. Did they react to the comedy sketch because they thought it was funny or stupid? Whichever way they saw it, it was the same. What we do know for sure is that people who think alike are drawn together, and in their association with each other grow closer in that thought process over time.
1North Brisbane Psychologists. (2016, June 14). Can you fall in love at first sight? Retrieved from https://northbrisbanepsychologists.com.au/can-you-fall-in-love-at-first-sight/
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