Home > Mental health > News Updated 15 November 2013 Social networks make us smarter Cultures become endangered without mentors and strong social networks, says new research. 0 iStock Related Sociable people have different brains Is Facebook turning you into a ‘slacktivist’? Troubled teens explain dark side of 'chat rooms' Ask CyberShrink » Talk Heart to heart forum » 13 hidden signs of stress Regenerative medicine: replacing brain cells lost from stroke The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.The study, published by the Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences, shows that when people can observe and learn from a wider range of teachers, groups can better maintain technical skills and even increase the group’s average skill over successive generations.The findings show that a larger population size and social connectedness are crucial for the development of more sophisticated technologies and cultural knowledge, says lead author Michael Muthukrishna, a PhD student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology.“This is the first study to demonstrate in a laboratory setting what archaeologists and evolutionary theorists have long suggested: that there is an important link between a society’s sociality and the sophistication of its technology,” says Muthukrishna, who co-authored the research with UBC Prof. Joseph Henrich.How the study was doneFor the study, participants were asked to learn new skills – digital photo editing and knot-tying – and then pass on what they learned to the next “generation” of participants. The groups with greater access to experts accumulated significantly more skill than those with less access to teachers. Within ten “generations,” each member of the group with multiple mentors had stronger skills than the group limited to a single mentor.Groups with greater access to experts also retained their skills much longer than groups who began with less access to mentors, sustaining higher levels of “cultural knowledge” over multiple generations.According to the researchers, the study has important implications for several areas, from skills development and education to protecting endangered languages and cultural practices. EurekAlert NEXT ON HEALTH24X When head injuries make life hard, suicide risk goes up 2018-08-28 11:00 More: Mental healthNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Fitness Want to get stronger? Stop ignoring these muscles in your workout Diet and nutrition You won’t believe these 6 health benefits of homemade chocolate cake Diet and nutrition Breakfast vs. dinner: Which meal is mightier? Lifestyle Do these sleep myths really work to get you to bed? Medical Why gum disease can affect so much more than your oral health Sex Can you burn kilojoules while having an orgasm? From our sponsors Dementia and Incontinence: what you need to know Tell-tale signs you need a mattress upgrade Keen to win a R2 000 voucher? Good health begins in your gastrointestinal tract Live healthier Looking younger » Can maple leaves help you look younger? New research has found that maple leaf extract can help you look years younger. Killer foods » Wild mushrooms a 'silent killer' Health practitioners are warning people to stay away from wild mushrooms.