Truth to Power

Oh, I thought it was because most people are idiots!

The Friendly Brain

Is our biology to blame if we’re not the sociable type?

There must be something deep in the human soul that makes us blame fate, birth, our parents and all sorts of other things beyond our control for how we turn out, and scientists are no less guilty of this. Case in point: a study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience this week concludes that something about the way the brain develops from birth (or earlier) leads some of us to be people persons–socially gregarious, enjoying the company of others–and some of us to be more aloof.

True, the scientists hedge their bets by making the requisite acknowledgement that people’s experience and behavior might act to alter their brain structure, something for which there is ample (and growing) evidence. (My favorites: London taxicab drivers develop a larger hippocampus (that’s the site of spatial memory, a good thing to have to navigate London streets) and violin players develop larger somatosensory cortexes in regions devoted to the digits of their fingering hand. But the title of this latest bit of research tells it all: “The brain structural disposition to social interaction.” Translation: brain structure comes first, and the result is that you are either a warm, friendly people person who delights in the company of others or a detached, independent, antisocial loner. </em>

See? Some people like people, some people don’t, and its biological. Now leave me alone!


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