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Opening Arguments

No brainer

So maybe I have this really tiny amygdala, but just shut up about it and leave me alone, OK?

Do you spend time with a lot of friends? That might mean a particular part of your brain is larger than usual.

It's the amygdala, which lies deep inside. Brain scans of 58 volunteers in a preliminary study indicated that the bigger the amygdala, the more friends and family the volunteers reported seeing regularly.

That makes sense because the amygdala is at the center of a brain network that's important for socializing, says Lisa Feldman Barrett, an author of the work published online Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

There was one paragraph that especially caught my eye:

But does having a bigger amygdala lead to more friends, or does socializing with a lot of friends create a bigger amygdala? The study can't sort that out. But Barrett said it might be a bit of both.

That's something that bears a lot more discussion as we discover a genetic component to everything. Some people beat us up with that to remind us we're not supposed to judge others for things they can't control, and some behaviorists say we can't even hold people responsible for the crimes they've committed. But if certain behavior creates changes in the brain rather than the other way around -- or at least if it's determined there's a complicated relationship with "a bit of both" -- that requires a different sort of debate, doesn't it?