Universiteit Leiden

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Thursday 17 February 2022
via Zoom

The (Neuro-)Anatomy of Friendship: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Friendships are a primate speciality, and have evolved to buffer us against the stresses of living in large social groups. They have a bigger effect on our psychological health and wellbeing, as well as our physical health and wellbeing, than anything else. Friendships are, however, extremely expensive to create and to maintain, both in terms of their time cost and in terms of their underpinning neurobiology.  The basis of this lies in the dual process mechanism that allows primates to manage their relationships. One arm of this forms the Social Brain Hypothesis that sets a cognitive limit on the number of relationships we can have; the other is formed by the endorphin system and the way this is triggered by physical touch acting through the afferent C-tactile neural system. In this lecture, I’ll explore the behavioral, cognitive and neurobiological bases of friendships in comparative perspective, and show how we use these as a basis for forming communities.

If you would like to attend this lecture via zoom please register via e-mail to

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