How much you like Facebook
may be connected to how a certain part of your mind works.
scans, German researchers found that activity in the nucleus accumbens --
the reward centre of the brain
-- was higher after receiving positive social feedback among those who were
avid users of the social media site.
"As human beings, we
evolved to care about our reputation. In today's world, one way we're able to
manage our reputation is by using social media websites like Facebook,"
wrote study author Dar Meshi, a postdoctoral researcher at Freie University in
"Our study reveals that the processing of social gains in
reputation in the left nucleus accumbens predicts the intensity of Facebook use
across individuals. These findings expand upon our present knowledge of nucleus
accumbens function as it relates to complex human behaviour."
The study, published in the
current issue of the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, involved
31 people. The participants were asked about their Facebook use, including how
many Facebook friends they had and how much time they spent on the social media
site each week. Facebook use varied dramatically among members of the group,
the researchers said.
Although their brains were
scanned, the volunteers also underwent a video interview. They were told how
highly people viewed them, and also saw what people thought about another
volunteer. The group also performed a card task to win money.
The study showed that those
who received positive feedback had stronger activation of the nucleus accumbens
than when they saw another person receive positive feedback. How big this
difference was corresponded to the intensity of that person's Facebook use. The
researchers pointed out that the card task to win money did not predict use of
the social media site.
"Our findings relating
individual social media use to the individual response of the brain's reward
system may also be relevant for both educational and clinical research in the
future," the study authors wrote in a journal news release.
They added, however, that
their findings do not determine if positive feedback on social media sites
drives people to these sites or if long-term use of these sites alters how the
brain processes this feedback.
The National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on the human brain and how it works.