According to research published in Nature Neuroscience, people who are occupied by busier social lives have a greater volume in a distinct region of their brain called the amygdala. There are even suggestions the amygdala, which has long been associated with emotional and mental state, may have evolved to manage social networks.
The research was conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 58 Healthy volunteers were asked to write down their contacts and social networks. Then, utilizing magnetic resonance imaging the structure of their brain was examined. Taking into consideration age and total brain size, the US team found significant differences in the amygdala’s size in people with larger, more complex social networks.
In Nature Neuroscience, the researchers wrote “We found that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans.
“These findings indicate that the amygdala is important in social behaviour.”
Now additional work is underway to look at how the amygdala (show in light blue in the brain scan above) and other brain regions are linked to social behavior in humans. Furthermore, the team will explore how aberrations in these brain regions, caused by neurological and psychiatric disorders, can alter social behaviour.