It's fairly easy for some people to share information about themselves on Facebook in just one click. In fact, as the world's largest social media site, Facebook caters to 1.5 billion monthly active users. The majority of these users post their feelings, thoughts, opinions, as well as links, videos and photos on the site.
Sometimes, Facebook users border on oversharing. But like the complex mechanisms behind a computer, there is a specific network of brain regions at play whenever a user posts personal information on social media sites, a new study revealed.
The new study, which is the first of its kind, examined the connectivity of certain brain regions previously established as involved in self-cognition among 35 participants.
Led by Dar Meshi of Freie Universität (Free University of Berlin), the research team focused on the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus - two brain regions used when thinking about oneself. Specifically, the medial prefrontal cortex is linked to personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior.
All of the study participants completed a questionnaire called "Self-Related Sharing Scale." This will determine how often each subject posted pictures of themselves, updated their status, and edited their profile information. The study participants were randomly selected so that they would vary widely in their Self-Related Sharing Scale scores.
While study participants were permitted to let their mind veer away from a specific thing, the research team used functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to record their brain activity. The participants also did not take on any particular task.
Meshi and his colleagues then analyzed the connectivity of each study participant's brain regions to find out the relationship between brain connectivity and Self-Related Sharing Scale scores.
The team found that those who post more personal information on Facebook had higher brain activity. What's more, the person's precuneus and medial prefrontal cortex were greatly connected to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), one of the most recently evolved parts of the human brain.
The DLPFC undergoes an extremely long period of maturation that lasts until adulthood. This area of the brain is involved in cognitive flexibility, planning, inhibition, abstract reasoning and working memory.
Additionally, researchers found greater connectivity between the precuneus and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, a part that is involved in emotion and reward in decision making.
The implication of the team's research is broad, and could lay the foundation for future scientific investigations into self-disclosure.
"Effectively presenting oneself to others, which includes the sharing of self-related information, is a crucially important social skill, playing a role in occupational success, romantic attraction, making friends, and other desirable aspects of life," the authors wrote.
The study is featured in the journal Scientific Reports.