Advice

You Know Those Annoying People Who Stand Too Close? There May Be Something Wrong With Their Brains

Finally, an explanation for why someone's all up on you in the elevator, or on mass transit.

Ever ride the subway and that person is just standing this close to you? What on Earth is their problem? Let’s ask a fruit fly.

Turns out, some people don’t actually understand the concept of personal space, and their brain is wired a little differently, says a new study conducted by the University of Western Ontario.

Researchers found that dopamine levels in the brain could play a huge role in regulating social space. And they studied the behavior patterns of fruit flies to determine this. They actually have very similar genetic makeup as humans.

They adjusted the levels of dopamine in the insects and observed how much space they needed from one another. When too little dopamine was released, they wanted more space. When too much dopamine was released, they wanted to snuggle up all close. Too close.

“Each animal has a preferred social bubble, a preferred personal space,” the study said. “If we can connect the dots with other animals including humans — because we all have similar neurotransmitters — we may gain new ways of understanding what’s happening in some disorders where personal space can sometimes be an issue.

“Ultimately, this research could lead us to understand a little better why some people are averse to social contact. It might also help us understand why some people who clearly want to interact don’t interpret some social cues the same way others might.”

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