People often have the same perception of the world as their friends, according to a study by researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The reason for this? Responses in the brain – neural responses – to real-world stimuli are similar among friends, and these similarities can, in turn, predict who our friends are.
In this study, the researchers found that they could accurately determine which members of a social network of nearly 280 grad students were friends by examining their neural responses to video clips. Brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and the videos included clips about politics, science, comedy, and music. Among study participants, friends had the most similar brain activity patterns, followed by friends-of-friends, and then friends-of-friends-of-friends.
The study, which was published in Nature Communications, is the first to look at connections in neural activity among people in a real-world social network, according to the researchers. Next, they plan to examine whether people naturally gravitate toward those who see the world as we do, become more similar once they share experiences, or both.