Human Brain Responses to Media (Part 2)
The act of providing 'likes' to others on social media is related to activation in brain circuity implicated in the reward response. Complete details about the physiological human brain response to social media and email are presented below.
- According to a study of 58 adolescents and young adults asked to complete a task in an MRI scanner designed to mimic the social photo-sharing app Instagram, the act of providing 'likes' to others on social media was related to activation in brain circuity implicated in reward, including the striatum and ventral tegmental area.
- Moreover, on trials in which participants provided a 'like,' the study also observed greater activation in the bilateral insula, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and paracingulate cortex, lateral prefrontal cortices (lPFC), and lateral parietal cortices.
- In the scenario where participants received many 'likes.' robust activation in hubs of the ‘default mode’ or ‘mentalizing network,’ were noted. Researchers felt this could be reliably implicated in social cognition and self-referential thought, including the precuneus and bilateral temporoparietal junction.
Brain Responses Leading to Online Arguments
- As outlined by Dr. Billi Gordon (PhD) in PsychologyToday, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain monitors social needs by releasing dopamine when we achieve social success and inspiring neurochemical deficits when we don't. However, as the VTA cannot think and only read signals and reacts, it leads to people wasting hours online arguing about things that they have no control over.
Effect of Online Social Media Exclusion on the Brain
- In a study developed by applying a Facebook format to study the effects of online social exclusion, researchers observed increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and insula after participants experienced exclusion, possibly signaling increased arousal and negative affect.
Effect of Rejection in Social Media on Brain Responses
- Another neuroimaging study revealed that being rejected based only on one’s profile pictures, resulted in increased activity in the medial frontal cortex, in both adults and children; while in adolescents it showed enhanced pupil dilation, a response to greater cognitive load, and emotional intensity to rejection.
Effect of Peer Feedback in Social Media on Brain Responses
- When it came to dealing with peer feedback on social media, researchers observed that when receiving peer feedback that did not match one's own initial rating, participants showed enhanced activity in the ACC and insula, two regions involved in detecting norm violations. More specifically, increased ACC activity was associated with more adjustment to fit peer feedback norms in adolescents.
- According to another UCLA study, the brain’s reward center (i.e., the nucleus accumbens) gets activated when people receive 'likes' on social media.
- According to a study conducted by Canada Post, direct mail campaigns required 21% less cognitive effort to process than their digital counterparts.
- Also, activation in parts of the brain that correspond to motivation response was 20% higher for direct mail compared to digital.
The research team conducted the primary search using academic literature databases, such as Nature, Science, Academia, Researchgate, Pubmed, Google Scholar, and Semantic Scholar. We then looked at statistics or examples relating to the insights gleaned from academic sources. The team also looked into information available within news portals that exclusively cover psychology and related science news since it is sometimes seen that these sources first report a scientific study and follow up on the same to find out applications or large scale testing surveys done on them. Although some such analyses were found for pertinent studies in sources such as Psychology News, PsyPost, Psychology Today, and Discover, the analyses were opinion-centric, qualitative appraisals and were done by academicians without conducting tests. The team also looked into studies done or funded by large social media platforms themselves (e.g., Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.). Although there was some basic information relating to Facebook acknowledging its users got into dopamine loops, there was no indication on how it was inferred, what studies led to it and what practical examples of it were recorded by Facebook. This was presumably because these platforms were not willing to divulge details relating to how using them could bring in potential physiological changes in its users. So while the team was able to identify 10 insights, there was not enough depth available online to provide the specific analysis requested.