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Friends Share Similar Brain Waves Too, Study Finds

When two people became close friends, they are now putting everything without effort / Photo by: Ann Haritonenko via Shutterstock

 

When people are really close friends, they just get along at everything with each other without putting too much effort. They both have a similar understanding and take on different things. It goes to show that they are always on the same wavelength.

Based on research, people choose their friend who is much like themselves in a wide variety of characteristics and similarities including age, race, religion, socio-economic status, educational level, and political leaning. As the years go by, new research has found that the roots of friendship extend into deeper reasons than previously perceived.

A new study suggests that brains of close friends are similar as to how they perceive the world around them. Moreover, the study shows that friends can have nearly identical brain activity.

The scientists wanted to evaluate the role of neural reactions in friendships that went beyond the physical and demographic characteristics that friends sometimes have in common.

Identifying Friendship through brainwave patterns

Dr. Carolyn Parkinson, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, and a couple of fellow researchers from Dartmouth College presented individuals with a series of video clips. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the brains of the participants were scanned as they watched the clips to see if their neural responses resembled those of their friends.

The team had provided an online survey to 279 graduate programme students at Dartmouth College, indicating which of their peers in the programme they classed as their friends. Among them, only 42 agreed to participate in a brain scanning study.

Based on Southern Living, researchers put 42 business school students in an MRI machine and showed them a series of 14 videos for about half an hour. The video clips were about a few minutes of a speech by former President Obama to a documentary about a baby sloth sanctuary to a music video to a debate on college football. Researchers watched the brain activity of the students on the scanner as they watched the clips. The scanner was recording data from 80 separate regions of the student’s brain and the device tracked blood flow in their brains as the watched the series of videos.

On the course of the experiment, the researchers observed that close friends felt emotional, paid close attention, and got distracted at similar points in each video.

Through this study that was published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have found out that friends’ brain activity showed similar patterns of activity in response to the video. Since you and your friend share the same music taste or views, seeing the videos will trigger the same brain activity.

According to the New York Times, the neural response patterns evoked by the videos proved so congruent among friends compared to patterns seen among people who were not friends. With that, brain wave patterns have been a good indicator of friendship since the researchers could predict the strength of two people’s social bond based on their brain scans alone.

Findings of the study can be a great evidence to prove that friendship is more than just shared interests but about good chemistry.

“Our results suggest that friends might be similar on how they pay attention to and process the world around them,” stated by Dr. Parkinson. “That shared processing could make people click more easily and have the sort of seamless social interaction that can feel so rewarding.”

Dr. Parkinson emphasized that the study was a first pass and a proof of concept. She added that they still don’t know what the neural response patterns could mean and what attitudes, opinions, impulses or mental thumb-twiddling the scans may be detecting.

Scientists made a research about the response of friendship through brain waves / Photo by: Yakobchuk Viacheslav via Shutterstock

 

The study of ‘Friendship’

The new study is part of an increase in scientific interest in the nature, structure, and evolution of friendship. It was provoked by a virtual Kilimanjaro of demographic evidence that friendlessness can be poisonous, and exacting a physical and emotional toll. Also, the scientist is eager to know what exactly makes friendship healthy and on the other hand, social isolation harmful. With that, they are gathering definitive clues to prove a point. 

As stated in the site Mind, Body, Green, the similarity in brain waves may be a contributing factor in making friends, but keeping them is extremely important for our mental health. In previous studies, researchers have found that having a close friendship is connected to a lower risk of cognitive decline in humans.

Dr. Christakis and his colleagues recently showed that people with strong social ties had relatively low levels of fibrinogen, a protein associated with the type of chronic inflammation believed to be responsible for many diseases. However, what remains unclear is that how socialization help blocks inflammation.

However, while this study has demonstrated the power of friendship, the results published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through the reports from The Independent have shown that only half of the friendships are truly genuine.

The research is part of the study about friendship / Photo by: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

 

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