Friends affect our brains. Not just our thoughts, but our actual brains. There’s a correlation between the size of a person’s social network and the size of portions of that person’s brain. Live Science reported on a recent study about friendships and the brain:
Some brain areas were enlarged and better connected in people with larger social networks. In humans, these areas were the temporal parietal junction, the anterior cingulate cortex and the rostral prefrontal cortex, which are part of a network involved in “mentalization” — the ability to attribute mental states, thoughts and beliefs to another.
See, it’s just as I suspected: the temporary party junction and the anteater cigarette cortex and the roster of preferential Cortez all get bigger the more friends you have.
OK, maybe I don’t understand the science behind this, but I do understand that the research shows that it is the act of having a large social network that actually increases those portions of the brain.
So you might be thinking that the secret to a bigger brain is to have lots of friends. And just where would that leave us introverts anyway? Well, it’s not that simple. The skull is only so large and a brain can only achieve a finite size, according to researcher MaryAnn Noonan, a neuroscientist at Oxford University.
The fact that some brain regions may be larger and more connected suggests other regions might be smaller in the brains of the more socially adept, Noonan said.
“If you’re spending a lot of time in social environments using social skills and your brain’s changing, maybe you’re not learning to juggle in your free time or becoming proficient at the piano,” she said. “The brain is just changing and optimizing to reflect your needs, and if that is thriving within a complex social environment, that is what your brain is reflecting.”
I’m going to take comfort in my relatively small social network. It means my brain is ready for me to learn to juggle. Won’t that come in handy around the courthouse.
God doesn’t have a brain, of course, but he does have thoughts.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9.)
And as David expressed:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17.)
God’s thoughts are vast in number and higher than any we could ever hope to have. And unlike the human brain that only has so much capacity for thinking about people, God’s capacity for thinking about people never fails.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10.)
He has gathered together more people than anyone could ever count, and yet he knows them each completely.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 27.)
It’s grace that God thinks about us at all, but he does:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4.)
God not only has thoughts for his people, but he also is able to think of all else he has created, the heavens, moon and stars.
He loves you, he loves to think about you, and he’ll never run out of thoughts for you.
I’m glad God has a bigger brain than I do.