Are You Wired for Social Success?

Brain structure linked to a great social life

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The part of our brain that manages emotional memory and fear is also directly linked to how well humans thrive in social situations.

The amygdala, roughly the size of an almond and located deep within the human brain, has a variety of functions – emotional memory consolidation and fear conditioning, chief among them.

According to recent findings, this temporal lobe structure is also the key to a rich social life in humans. The amygdala is the only structure in the brain found to be related to the size and intricacies of human social networks.

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital studied results based on individuals and their social networks, identifying variables such as group affiliations and the amount of social contacts. Brain scans then revealed that people with a larger amygdala had larger social connections.

These results go hand in hand with the "social brain hypothesis" which suggests that amygdala size may have evolved to keep up with growing networks and interactions of primitive man.

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, who led the study, hopes that learning more about the amygdala will also be useful in helping people who suffer from certain neurologic and psychological disorders that hinder social involvement.

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Last Updated:
December 27, 2010