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 'The plane is going to crash': Anxiety aboard flight SAA 323 2017-10-17 07:45 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 Lifestyle 5 reasons you’re gaining weight that have nothing to do with food Diet and nutrition Creatine vs BCAAs – the lowdown on why they work, and which one we think is best Medical Can this be the cause of your restless legs? News ‘If you are disabled you are cursed and bewitched’ Medical 1 in 4 SA workers suffers from depression Lifestyle Reasons why your scalp is itchy – and how to fix it From our sponsors WIN a R2 000 beauty voucher! Understanding diabetes self-management Fed up with the Phlemings? Let’s chat diabetes and erectile dysfunction Live healthier FYI » When the flu turns deadly Why the flu makes you feel so miserable Could a deadly flu strain hit SA this winter? Following an intense flu season in the US and UK, should we be worried about our own upcoming flu season? Alcohol and acne » Dagga vs alcohol: Which is worse? SEE: Why you are drinking more alcohol than you realise Does alcohol cause acne? Some foods can be a trigger for acne, but what about alcohol? Dermatologist Dr Nerissa Moodley weighs in.