Friendship is one of the most rewarding and meaningful parts of life. If you're lucky, there are a few people in your social circle who you consider to be your best friends. They're the people who are with you in good times and in bad and who you share everything with—clothes, sage advice, and brain waves (yes, really). A recent study set out to determine whether or not friendship could be associated with similar neural responses in the brain. The research found that best friends tend to not only be similar in terms of physical attributes like age and gender, but also in the way they perceive and interpret the world—but you and your partner in crime probably already knew that.
Scientists analyzed the neural responses of people who were close friends and those who were not as they watched a series of short videos. The goal was to measure the real-time thought process of the individuals and see how similar the neural responses of close friends might be. Participants screened videos on a variety of subjects, from sentimental music videos to slapstick comedies as scientists analyzed how their brains reacted to what they saw. The idea was that some might find a romantic video sweet while others would find it annoyingly sappy, or that a low-brow comedy might make some laugh and others cringe.
The results found that the neural responses were more similar among close friends, so much so that researchers were able to predict how close two participants were based on their brain wave patterns. This evidence supports the idea that people often befriend others who see the world in a similar way to themselves. However, researchers are still unsure whether these similarities are the cause or effect of being best friends with someone.
Either way, this study may provide some explanation for that inexplicable connection between best friends. If you've ever felt like you and your number one pal could understand each other with just a look, this might be why.
Head to Nature Communications for more insights from this intriguing study.