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 social media 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 medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus, to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. There was also greater connectivity between the precuneus and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex.
“Our study reveals a network of brain regions involved in the sharing of self-related information on social media,” says Meshi. “These findings extend our present knowledge of functional brain connectivity, specifically linking brain regions 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.
About this social neuroscience research
Funding: The study was supported by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Source:Freie Universitaet Berlin Image Source: The image is adapted from the Freie Universitaet Berlin press release. Original Research: Full open access research for “Sharing self-related information is associated with intrinsic functional connectivity of cortical midline brain regions” by Dar Meshi, Loreen Mamerow, Evgeniya Kirilina, Carmen Morawetz, Daniel S. Margulies and Hauke R. Heekeren in Scientific Reports. Published online March 7 2016 doi:10.1038/srep22491
Sharing self-related information is associated with intrinsic functional connectivity of cortical midline brain regions
Human beings are social animals and they vary in the degree to which they share information about themselves with others. Although brain networks involved in self-related cognition have been identified, especially via the use of resting-state experiments, the neural circuitry underlying individual differences in the sharing of self-related information is currently unknown. Therefore, we investigated the intrinsic functional organization of the brain with respect to participants’ degree of self-related information sharing using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging and self-reported social media use. We conducted seed-based correlation analyses in cortical midline regions previously shown in meta-analyses to be involved in self-referential cognition: the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), central precuneus (CP), and caudal anterior cingulate cortex (CACC). We examined whether and how functional connectivity between these regions and the rest of the brain was associated with participants’ degree of self-related information sharing. Analyses revealed associations between the MPFC and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), as well as the CP with the right DLPFC, the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex and left anterior temporal pole. These findings extend our present knowledge of functional brain connectivity, specifically demonstrating how the brain’s intrinsic functional organization relates to individual differences in the sharing of self-related information.
“Sharing self-related information is associated with intrinsic functional connectivity of cortical midline brain regions” by Dar Meshi, Loreen Mamerow, Evgeniya Kirilina, Carmen Morawetz, Daniel S. Margulies and Hauke R. Heekeren in Scientific Reports. Published online March 7 2016 doi:10.1038/srep22491