Social Networks Matter: Friends Increase the Size of Your Brain

Human beings are the most social of the primates and have the largest group sizes of any species in our order. For about 90% of our existence we lived in hunter-gatherer societies with populations that likely clustered around 150-200 individuals. By way of comparison, baboons come in a distant second with an average of about 50 group members. Now, thanks to modern industrial agriculture, our species has pushed that range well into the millions, a development that has resulted in considerable stress on our slightly above average primate brains. Of course, all organisms need to successfully predict and navigate their environments in order to relay their genes on to the next generation. It’s just that this becomes increasingly complicated when there are many individuals all interacting in the same environment simultaneously. Merely keeping track of these relationships requires a considerable amount of time and energy, not to mention brain power.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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