Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Facebook Results To Bad and Good Behaviour

Researchers from Germany conducted the first study looking at how social media use is linked to brain activity, by analyzing the Facebook use of 31 participants.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, focused specifically on the participants' nucleus accumbens. This is a small structure in the brain researchers say is responsible for the pleasure we get from "reward" processing, including money, food, sex and gains in reputation.
All participants were required to complete the Facebook Intensity Scale. This was to determine:
  • How many Facebook friends each participant has
  • How many minutes they spend on Facebook each day
  • Their general thoughts on Facebook and how they feel about the site.
The participants were then required to give a video interview, which involved them briefly introducing themselves and answering eight questions about their work, hobbies, social lives and long-term goals.
They were then told whether other participants thought highly of them after watching their interviews, and they were also required to take part in a card test to win money. Functional MRI (fMRI) scans were taken of the subjects throughout all of the tasks.

Positive Facebook feedback seen as a 'reward' in brain

The findings of the study revealed that participants who gained positive feedback about themselves showed stronger activity within the nucleus accumbens compared with when they saw another person receiving positive feedback. This corresponded with the subjects' intensity of Facebook use.
However, when the participants received a monetary reward, activity in the nucleus accumbens did not correspond with their intensity of Facebook use.
Dar Meshi, postdoctoral researcher at the Freie Universit├Ąt in Germany and lead author of the study, explains:
"As human beings, we evolved to care about our reputation. In today's world, one way we are able to manage our reputation is by using social media websites like Facebook."
"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 behavior."
The study authors note that other research has revealed some negative effects of social media, including how Facebook may interrupt productivity in schools and reduce grade point averages.
Researchers have discovered that the reward center in the brain - the nucleus accumbens - is responsible for the addiction to "Facebook fame."
They add that these most recent findings relating individual social media use to the individual response of the brain's reward system may be relevant for both educational and clinical research in the future.
They warn, however, that their findings do not show whether positive social feedback drives people to use social media, or whether regular use changes the way the brain processes positive social feedback. They say further research is needed in this area.

by- Sanjay Kv



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