New study reveals brain network for sharing self-related information on Facebook

March 8, 2016
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A network of brain regions involved in self-disclosure on Facebook has been determined, according to a new study published in the open-access journal Scientific Reports.

In the first study to examine the intrinsic functional connectivity of the brain in relation to use, Dar Meshi and colleagues observed connectivity between regions of the brain previously established to play a role in self-cognition, in 35 participants.

Researchers focused on the medial prefrontal cortex and the precuneus, two cortical midline regions that are recruited when thinking about oneself.

"Human beings like to share information about themselves. In today's world, one way we're able to share self-related information is by using social media platforms like Facebook," says Meshi, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany.

Facebook is the world's largest social media channel with 1.5 billion monthly active users. It was used in the study because people post information about their thoughts, feelings and opinions, as well as pictures and videos of themselves.

All subjects completed a "Self-Related Sharing Scale" to determine how frequently each subject posted pictures of themselves, updated their profile information, and updated their status. The participants were selected to vary widely in their Self-Related Sharing Scale scores.

Researchers recorded functional neuroimaging (fMRI) data while subjects were allowed to let their mind wander; subjects did not perform an explicit task. Researchers then analyzed the connectivity of each participant's brain to determine a relationship between brain connectivity and Self-Related Sharing Scale score across participants.

Results showed that participants who share more about themselves on Facebook had greater connectivity of both the and precuneus, to the . There was also greater connectivity between the precuneus and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex.

"Our study reveals a network of regions involved in the sharing of self-related information on social media," says Meshi. "These findings extend our present knowledge of , specifically linking previously established to function in self-referential cognition to regions indicated in the cognitive process of self-disclosure."

The authors point out that the implications of their research are broad and lay the foundation for future scientific investigation into self-disclosure.

Explore further: Are you an avid Facebook user? It's all about your nucleus accumbens

More information: Dar Meshi et al. Sharing self-related information is associated with intrinsic functional connectivity of cortical midline brain regions, Scientific Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1038/srep22491

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The brain clock that keeps memories ticking

May 30, 2016

Just as members of an orchestra need a conductor to stay on tempo, neurons in the brain need well-timed waves of activity to organize memories across time. In the hippocampus—the brain's memory center—temporal ordering ...

Effects of maternal smoking continue long after birth

May 30, 2016

Early exposure to nicotine can trigger widespread genetic changes that affect formation of connections between brain cells long after birth, a new Yale-led study has found. The finding helps explains why maternal smoking ...

Fish courtship pheromone uses the brain's smell pathway

May 30, 2016

Research at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan has revealed that a molecule involved in fish reproduction activates the brain via the nose. The pheromone is released by female zebrafish and sensed by smell receptors ...

Study identifies how brain connects memories across time

May 23, 2016

Using a miniature microscope that opens a window into the brain, UCLA neuroscientists have identified in mice how the brain links different memories over time. While aging weakens these connections, the team devised a way ...

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

May 25, 2016

A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses—the connections that allow neurons to communicate with each other.

Teen brains facilitate recovery from traumatic memories

May 25, 2016

Unique connections in the adolescent brain make it possible to easily diminish fear memories and avoid anxiety later in life, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. The findings may have important ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.