I suspect that this is somethingvery important. Skip the rest of thebrain. This is the switch box foremotional coding, or at this point we can presume that is true. Why this is important is that it is myopinion at least that our entire decision making is done through emotionalloading. This is the principle reason itis so difficult to undo a bad conception in the real world even in the face ofmounting evidence. Objectivity andbalance only comes after the emotional outburst on confronting the changingfacts on the ground.
I am sure that the aboveconjecture may well be violently opposed by those who have bought into anotherspecialist dogma. As an aside, in mymanuscript titled ‘Paradigms Shift’ I introduce a whole range of newconceptions. What I found intriguing isthat my sample audience all had the same reaction. They agreed and enjoyed all of the materialuntil they hit a specific topic that they thought themselves well versed on. At that point the rejection waspalpable. It was different for everyreader.
Everyone has a large emotionalloading attached to material they trained on and studied. Rejecting that, however dated is difficultand few are truly ready for it.
For now we discover that thisswitch box tracks our social network in particular, but also strongly suggeststhat my argument that the natural village size is properly around 150. I would like to revisit that idea. The data suggests that key individualsdevelop the social networking capacity that in fact links the rest in terms oftheir own capacity.
This means that we need to designof virtual community in terms of a range of sub social networks to fullyunderstand it. Obvious when one thinksit through, but only after one sees the data.
A larger emotion-processing braincentre is linked to a bigger circle of friends.
The size of your amygdala (circled) indicatesthe extent of your social network. BradDickerson
How manyfriends do you have? A rough answer can be predicted by the size of a small,almond-shaped brain structure that is present in a wide range of vertebrates,scientists report today in NatureNeuroscience.
Theresearchers studied the amygdala, which is involved in inter-personal functionssuch as interpreting emotional facial expressions, reacting to visual threatsand trusting strangers. Inter-species comparisons in non-human primates havepreviously shown that amygdala volume is associated with troop size, suggestingthat the brain region supports skills necessary for a complex social life1.
On thebasis of these past findings, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett of
Northeastern Universityin , wondered whether a largeramygdala size allows some humans to build a richer social world. Boston, Massachusetts
Barrett'steam measured the amygdala volume in 58 healthy adults using brain imagesgathered during magnetic resonance imaging sessions. To construct socialnetworks, the researchers asked the volunteers how many people they kept inregular contact with, and how many groups those individuals belonged to.
Theyfound that participants who had bigger and more complex social networks hadlarger amygdala volumes. This effect did not depend on the age of thevolunteers or their own perceived social support or life satisfaction, suggestingthat happiness is not the underlying causal factor that links the size of thisbrain structure in an individual to their number of friends2.
"We'dall predict this relationship should be found, but [the authors] did it in avery smart way by ruling out other variables," says cognitiveneuroscientist Kevin Ochsner of
Columbia University in . "That's why I think thispaper is going to end up being a citation classic, because it demonstrates therelationship in a way that gives you confidence that it's real," he adds. New York City
But it'sstill a mystery how the amygdala contributes to social networks. Perhaps thestructure's response to faces, emotions or emotional memories influenceswhether someone decides to develop and maintain relationships, says BradDickerson, a cognitive neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital inBoston, who helped lead the study.
It'slikely that social behaviour relies on a much broader set of brain regions,Dickerson says. In the future, the team will use functional neuroimagingapproaches to determine the relationship between patterns of brain activity inan individual and the size of social groups to which they belong.
Anotherimportant question is whether a big amygdala is a cause or a consequence ofhaving a large social network. "In the end, it's probably some ofboth," Ochsner says. "But you first had to establish that therelationship really exists before you could address those criticalquestions."