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Amygdala volume and social network size in humans



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B r i e f c o m m u n i c at i o n s We found that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans An exploratory analysis of subcortical structures did not find strong evidence for similar relationships with any other structure but there were associations between social network variables and cortical thickness in three cortical areas two of them with amygdala connectivity These findings indicate that the amygdala is important in social behavior For many species but particularly for primates living in groups is a major adaptive advantage1 But living in a social group also presents its own challenges To get along while getting ahead it is necessary to learn who is who who is friend and who is foe It might be productive to form an alliance with certain group members in one context but to outmaneuver them in another The social brain hypothesis suggests that evolutionarily living in larger more complex social groups selected for larger brain regions with a greater capacity for performing relevant computations2 On the basis of its central functional role3 4 and anatomic position5 in the social brain investigators have proposed that amygdala volume should be related to the size of social groups in part because the size of a brain region is one indicator of its processing capacity6 Comparative neuroanatomical studies in nonhuman primates strongly support a link between amygdala volume and social network size7 and social behavior8 Species characterized by larger social groups have a larger corticobasolateral complex within the amygdala The corticobasolateral complex conjointly expanded with evolutionarily newer cortex and the lateral geniculate nucleus particularly the layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus that project to the ventral stream visual system7 Taken together these comparative findings suggest that a larger amygdala provides for the increased processing demands required by a complex social life In this study we



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