Posts Tagged ‘Social network’


We all have social networks.  Your friends and family are a network of relationships.  The neural networks in your brain that carry out computations involved in social interactions are another type of “social network”.  These two networks are obviously related – in so far as your ability to self-reference and understand your own internal thoughts and feelings predicts how well you can understand and predict the internal thoughts and feelings of others – and thus how extensive your network of friends and family is likely to be.  The structure of your brain networks may even be related to how many friends you have on facebook.

According to Lencz and colleagues, there is a genetic association between the T-allele of rs1344706 and the structure and connectivity of the neural networks that carry out self-referential processing in the brain … in the so-called “default mode network” that is associated with “stimulus independent” mental activity and with social cognition such as when you are attributing mental states to others.

Interestingly, the T-allele of this SNP – residing in the zinc finger protein 804A gene – has been previously associated with schizophrenia (SZ).

From Lencz and colleagues:

“To our knowledge, this is also the first study to identify a genetic correlate of multiple brain regional GM volumes comprising the default mode network.”

The default mode network comprises regions that show synchronized activity at ‘resting’ baseline, in the absence of specific stimulation (Raichle et al, 2001). Ongoing work has implicated this network in the development of self-referential thought (Spreng and Grady, 2010), which has been specifically implicated in the developmental psychopathology of SZ (Nelson et al, 2009).

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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Yoga instructors will sometimes speak loosely of a wider and greater consciousness that exists beyond our own limited mental world – a consciousness that we all belong to.

I know its a stretch, but I wondered how Twitter and other social media might reflect a existing (and searchable) sort-of shared consciousness.  I had some fun exploring Twitter and how folks think (and tweet) about yoga … just a few glimpses using PeopleBrowsr and Trendistic and other tools.  I don’t think Patanjali would have been impressed by the shared sentiments that are tweeted and re-re-re-re-tweeted etc.

For the past 30 days there were 44,614 per day mentions of “yoga” on Blogger, 254/day on Facebook, 64/day on MySpace and 5,791/day on Twitter.

Here are the most common words that flank the word “yoga” in these various mentions:

15,602 love
15,383 make
14,148 music
11,125 hate
11,066 shopping
10,873 eating
10,579 class
10,446 books
9,643 good
9,449 #yoga

Natural language processing software can distinguish between positive and negative sounding sentiments and both TweetSentiments and Twitter TipTop suggest that there is a 2:1 positive bias for yoga tweets (check out the negative tweets here – they’re usually not really dissing yoga).

Lastly, for the past 6 months, the word yoga is mentioned pretty regularly, but with occasional spikes in popular stories involving yoga.  The spike in yoga tweets back in May was from a story of how yoga eases sleep problems in cancer survivors and around Oct 7th there was a story on yoga and Christianity which I recall zipped around a lot in the blogosphere/twitterverse.

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