Best Friends Really are on the Same Wavelength, According to Brain Scans
Tell me if this situation sounds familiar: You have plans with a friend to go to dinner at a hip new restaurant, but you're absolutely exhausted from a long week. Then, out of the blue your friend will suggest skipping out on your dinner reservation and staying in and watching Sweet Home Alabama again, which sounds absolutely perfect to you. As your change in plans proved, you and your friend were on the same wavelength. Turns out that's not just a saying, though. A new study shows that friends can have nearly identical brain activity.
Researchers put 42 business school students in an MRI machine and showed them a series of 14 videos for about half an hour. The video clips ranged from a few minutes of a speech by former President Obama to a documentary about a baby sloth sanctuary to a music video to a debate on college football. While the students watched the videos, the researchers watched their brain activity on the scanner, which was recording data from 80 separate regions of their brains, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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In the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers found that friends' brain activity showed similar patterns of activity in response to the videos. For instance, when people watched the music video for the song "All I Want" some considered it "sweet" while saw it as "sappy," with the brain activity to back up those feelings. Since you and your friends tend to like the same music or share political beliefs or feelings about college football seeing those images will trigger similar brain activity. "Neural similarity was associated with a dramatically increased likelihood of friendship," the team from UCLA and Dartmouth College reported. Brain wave patterns were such a good indicator of friendship, in fact, that the researchers were able to pick out which people were friends and which were merely schoolmates just by looking at their scans.
The researchers noted that "these results suggest that we are exceptionally similar to our friends in how we perceive and respond to the world around us." And that means that the next time you want to stay in and watch Reese Witherspoon movies, your friend just may want to as well.