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Social Butterflies Bigger Brains

Social Butterflies Bigger Brains - Social butterflies often have bigger personalities than introverts. Now, new research suggests that parts of their brains might be bigger too.

Scientists in New England have linked the size of the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the brain tied to fear and fight-or-flight responses, to the size and complexity of one's social network.

The bigger the amygdala, the larger and more intricate the person's social life seems to be, according to the team at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Social Butterflies Bigger Brains

The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience, seem to fall in line with previous research showing that primates tend to be more social if they have larger amygdala, though none of the studies have determined whether a bigger-sized amygdala is the reason for the more extensive social network or the other way around.

"We know that primates who live in larger social groups have a larger amygdala, even when controlling for overall brain size and body size," study lead author Lisa Feldman Barrett, of MGH's Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a psychology professor at Northwestern University, said in a statement. "We considered a single primate species, humans, and found that the amygdala volume positively correlated with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans."

The researchers said they studied the rest of the subcortical structures within the brain but saw no convincing evidence that a comparable association existed between the size of those areas and the complexity of one's social network.

Social Butterflies Bigger Brains

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