Jennifer Aniston arrives at the premiere of her romantic comedy 'Wanderlust.' Jennifer Aniston arrives at the premiere of her romantic comedy 'Wanderlust.' Jennifer Aniston arrives at the premiere of her romantic comedy 'Wanderlust.' (Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

There’s a neuron in your brain, and it’s named after Jennifer Aniston

This is what happens when you watch too much television, America.

When doctors perform brain surgeries, they often keep their patients awake. (You can't feel stuff touching your brain, don't worry.) That's why Itzhak Fried, an Israeli neurosurgeon, asked his epileptic seizure patients if they'd be up for a little experimental research while their brains were still hooked up to machines. A lot of them went for it. (Personally, I'm not sure my reaction to "Can I experiment on your brain?" would be yes, but maybe that's why I just write about science.)

Fried – who has worked in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv – found something weird: when patients saw a picture of Jennifer Aniston, a neuron in their brains lit up.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Neurons light up, Ilana," you're saying. "That's what they do." And yes. That is what they do. But here's the thing: this neuron didn't light up when they saw pictures of other women. Just Jennifer Aniston. People apparently have a Jennifer Aniston neuron.

"The neuron fired when presented with different pictures of Aniston, but not when shown other celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, or Pamela Anderson, places like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Eiffel Tower, or different animals," wrote Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, a British neurologist who went ahead and studied the same thing because it was so weird.

Since then, scientists have found "Halle Berry" cells, as well as ones associated with characters in "The Simpsons" and members of The Beatles.

"So what's the deal?" you're asking me now. "Why?" Well, I'm glad you asked. The answer is ... I don't know. Neither do scientists. One idea is that it has to do with Aniston's combined features — her blue eyes, her hair, all those other things television executives consider movie star features. The brain adds up all that information, neurons about each piece fire, and boom, you've got a Jennifer Aniston neuron.

So she's in our brains. Maybe that's why we were all so sad when "Friends" went off the air. (I jest. I never watched the show. Or understood what the big deal was about Jennifer Aniston. Keeping it real.)


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