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The Riveter

This is Your Brain on Friendship

My health and wellbeing, not to mention my sanity, is inextricably tied to my best friend, no doubt.  If you’re anything like me, you can’t go a day without multiple texts and perhaps a phone call.  We recently discovered the Voxer app (amazing!) and leave each other messages through the day with updates.  We’re on opposite coasts, but three time zones can’t stop us from sharing our daily lives.

Yesterday she sent me a link to this New York Times article about friendship and brain health.  Scientists have become very interested in how our relationships shape our wellbeing, and studies show that social isolation is harmful to our health.  But there’s more!  Researchers recently discovered that we are attracted to people who move through the world in a similar fashion to ourselves.  

New research suggests the roots of friendship extend even deeper than previously suspected. Scientists have found that the brains of close friends respond in remarkably similar ways as they view a series of short videos: the same ebbs and swells of attention and distraction, the same peaking of reward processing here, boredom alerts there. 

The researchers identified particularly revealing regions of pattern concordance among friends, notably in the nucleus accumbens, in the lower forebrain, which is key to reward processing, and in the superior parietal lobule, located toward the top and the back of the brain — roughly at the position of a man bun — where the brain decides how to allocate attention to the external environment.

Yep, I'm literally on the same wave-length as my best friend.  No wonder we can read the other’s mind.  And when I’m tired of explaining myself to everyone else in my world, a little time with the person who knows me best makes all the difference in my outlook. Speaking of, she’s voxing me now.

 

Rebekah Papé is a writer, food and wellness consultant, and The Riveter member.  She teaches breath, meditation, and yoga asana on Fridays at 11:30am and noon at Capitol Hill.