Recent research was conducted from University College London linking the number of Facebook friends a person has and the size of certain brain regions. It is an interesting concept to choose to investigate how something most people use daily may or may not affect our brain and other issues of perception and emotions, etc., that may come with it. It makes sense with the fact that Facebook has over 800 million users that its effect may be widespread enough to even cause changes in brain areas.
The scientists wanted to study “how interactions are mediated through social media”, so they enrolled 125 college students, all frequent Facebook users, and examined brain scans taken by MRI of each of the participants. It was found that there was a “strong connection between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the amount of grey matter in several regions in the brain, including the amygdala—a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses.”
The “grey matter” that shows up on the MRI scan results is a display of brain tissue where mental processing takes place. The presence of that grey matter demonstrates that the brain is working and growing to learn and process new information.
Not only did the study find the correlation between the number of Facebook friends and increased brain region activity, but it also found that the more friends on Facebook a person had, the more friends they were likely to have in real life. Perhaps this indicates how social media is able to accurately reflect real life situations because it is evolving into such a normal part of everyday life.
This type of study will help eventually answer the question of whether or not the Internet is changing our brains permanently, and if that change is good or bad. For now, it just serves as another fascinating piece of the puzzle.