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Friendship on the Brain

February 5, 2018

Close friends show similar brain patterns.


Matheus Berthelli pexels-photo-573306

Friends share similar neural response patterns. (Matheus Berthelli/Pexels)


Friendship on the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We tend to choose our friends based on similarities in age, gender and other demographics. But now there’s evidence that close friends share similar brain patterns as well. UCLA social neuroscientist Carolyn Parkinson and her colleagues  mapped a social network of nearly 300 students at a business school. Her team then measured the neural responses of a subset of those students as they watched the same 14 video clips.


We found that brain responses among friends are exceptionally similar and the similarity decreased with increased social distance. 


The researchers report in Nature Communications that this was especially true for areas of the brain involved with attention, emotional arousal, and higher-level reasoning. Her team is now investigating whether friends start out with similar brain responses, or become more alike over time. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard