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Bigger brain, more friends?

How many friends can one mind handle?

A new study by researchers including Robin Dunbar, PhD, suggests that brain size could provide a clue. Dimensions of the orbital prefrontal cortex, or frontal lobe, correlate with a person's capacity to manage friendships, according to results published in The Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Biological Sciences.

A article reports on the study, which involved 40 participants getting brain scans and taking tests to measure the reach of their active social networks, and its significance:

The study suggests that we need to employ a set of cognitive skills to maintain a large number of friends, known in psychology circles as “mentalizing” or “mind-reading”– an ability to understand what another person is thinking, which is crucial to our ability to handle our complex social world, including the ability to hold conversations with one another.

By the way, the optimal, "Dunbar Number" of friendships to maintain (as described in earlier work), is 150.

Previously: Study shows chronic stress in adolescence may impair memory and Do we have dual-core brains?
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