Think about your friends—the people you spend a lot of time with, see movies with, those people you’d text to grab a drink or dinner after a long week. Now think back to why you first became friends and ask yourself: was it because you like them? Or because you are like them? A recent study, led by Carolyn Parkinson, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that the answer may involve a complex network of brain regions that gets to the root of how friendship exists in our brains.
When I spoke with her, Parkinson told me that a key focus of her research is learning how social networks might shape or be shaped by how our brains process information. Her previous work explored how the brain encodes one’s social standing, or where one sits in relation to another within a social hierarchy. She now wanted to understand how friendship itself was fleshed out in the brain.
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