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Sure, they're your buddies, but they could be holding you back 

You and the boys like to take in a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway. But are those friends keeping you from discovering and adopting new healthy habits?Winslow Townson / AP file

Branch out -- for your brain's sake: Socializing with the same friends can limit your knowledge, suggests a new Finnish study.

Researchers found that once people hear new info, they call other friends to share it. The result: You wind up hearing the same ideas from everyone in your network, explains study author Lauri Kovanen.

In fact, a 2011 MIT study analysis found that sticking to contained social circles can even prevent people from discovering and adopting new healthy habits and trends. (Hit the gym, eat more vegetables, or quit smoking, and you'll Add Years To Your Life.)

New friends can expose you to different ways of thinking, and even make you smarter. Recent Australian research suggests that people with large, rich social networks have bigger, more developed amygdalas, the brain region associated with memory and emotion.

For an easy way to make new connections, try this: Next time your team loses, grieve on Facebook and see who sympathizes. A 2012 study from the University California, San Diego found that posting about universal topics influences not only your friends, but friends of friends. Disclosing interests to a wide audience will speed up the process of finding out which acquaintances are cooler than you think. (Three signs you need to dump your buddy, and how to do it.)

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