Social Butterflies Have More Active Brains, Says Sensationalist Headline


A new study concludes that social butterflies have more active amygdalas. Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau beg to differ. Or, they would, if they weren’t hiding under dining room tables or in cabins in the woods.

MSNBC calls its article “Social Butterflies May Have Bigger Brain Structures,” but by “bigger brain structures,” they mean “a part of the brain is bigger.” Kind of like how if you have bigger breasts than one of your female friends, therefore your feet must also be bigger. Science!

Anyway, the part of the brain that’s most active during social interactions is called the amygdala, and those who tend to be more outgoing and visit friends more often tend to have larger, more active amygdalas. Scientists haven’t yet determined if the amygdala causes people to desire to interact more, or if interaction actually changes the structure of the brain to enlarge the amygdala. Further research is necessary to reach a conclusion.

I’m interested in what this means for people who spend a fair amount of time socializing virtually. Granted, interacting with someone’s virtual personality isn’t the same as visiting a relative face-to-face, but the realness of relationships that people form with people they’ve met on the internet can’t be denied. One need only to hop over to groupthink or crosstalk at any given moment to discover that regular participants in that thread/forum have formed real connections with each other, spend real time thinking about each other and working to help each other. If virtual relationships and face-to-face relationships both reflect or impact the size of the brain’s socialization center, you clowns must have some giant amygdalas.

Social Butterflies May Have Bigger Brain Structures

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