New research that finds connection between Facebook friends and social media, might be a little misleading.
A new study has shown up surprisingly good news for chronic Facebook users. It found that the more friends on Facebook you have, the brainier you are. Though done with all seriousness, the study seems to neglect some obvious factors that would have made one reach the conclusion without doing the study. But first, let’s consider the research.
Researchers at the University College London have connected the number of friends on Facebook with the amount of ‘grey matter’ in the amygdale, the sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus, the right entorhinal cortex and superior temporal sulcus. Grey matter is supposed to be that layer in the brain where mental processing takes place. Despite just dealing with Facebook specifically, it might be indicative of the impact of Internet and social networking on our brains.
The study - Online Social Network Size is reflected in Human Brain Structure, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study 125 university students who were also Facebook users. The researchers took the results from the brains’ of these Facebook users and compared these with the same of another 40 students who did not use Facebook.
The abstract summary of the findings read: “We show a biological basis for such variability by demonstrating that quantitative variation in the number of friends an individual declares on a web-based social networking service reliably predicted grey matter density in the right superior temporal sulcus, left middle temporal gyrus and entorhinal cortex. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that the size of an individual’s online social network is closely linked to focal brain structure implicated in social cognition.” The study also linked the thickness of the grey matter in the amygdala to the number of “real-world” friends people have.
The study thus suggests a strong connection between the size of brain parts and number of friends one makes on Facebook. According to Ryota Kanai, one of the researchers: “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.” Geraint Rees, also of University College London notes: “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.” He continued, “This shows we can use some of the powerful tools in modern neuroscience to address important questions - namely, what are the effects of social networks, and online social networks in particular, on my brain.”
Though interesting, the study, as it is presented, seem a little misguided. It is apparent that only those with greater social sense will have more friends on Facebook. A greater social sense comes from more intelligence and grey matter in the brain. The correlation found out by the researchers is thus more like the catch-22 cliché of whether the chicken came first or the egg, something that can never be fully and comprehensively explained.
Yet, for fans of social web and marketing professionals, this will affirm their belief in social media. This may not be such a bad thing after all.
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