Monday, January 3, 2011

How large is your Amygdala?

A new MRI study has shown that the volume of the amygdalae (two tiny organs located in the Brain's limbic area) correlated positively with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans. The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, are similar to previous findings in other primate species. This link between amygdala size and social network size and complexity was observed for both older and younger individuals and for both men and women and was specific to the amygdala (e.g., social network size and complexity were not associated with the size of other brain structures. According to Lisa Feldman Barrett PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, researchers are also trying to understand how abnormalities in the amygdala may impair social behavior in neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Fascinating! You may want to consider expanding your social network this year to "grow your amygdalae."

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