Here’s How Social Media Likes Affect Your Brain

Research conducted by UCLA and published in Psychological Science concluded that seeing how photographs posted on a social network are liked by other people via the “Like” button activates the same areas of the brain that are triggered by masturbation or tasting very sweet foods like chocolate.

The psychology behind Instagram and Facebook

This study confirms the intuition that many people had: that the functioning of certain social networks is designed so that they are real gymnasiums of narcissism.

However, its implications go much further. Let’s see how the research was conducted.

How was the study conducted?

This research, conducted by the psychologist Lauren Sherman and his team, was based on the use of an imitation of the social network Instagram. Sherman and his researchers recruited 32 teenagers (14 boys and 18 girls) accustomed to using Instagram and, using MRI, saw how their brains were activated when young people interacted with the imitation of this network. Social where they could see both the images they had uploaded and the photos of strangers.

Each of the participants in this experiment was told that they would be using a social network used by a small community while taking fMRI images of their neural activity. However, the truth is that the photographs of strangers appeared to belong to the tales of young people, had been selected by the research team and, in fact, these scientists were also responsible for putting a certain number of likes on all of the images.

So each teenager got a chance to react to 40 photos from their own real Instagram account and 108 from strangers. In addition, the researchers informed the participants that each of the photographs they were going to see had been seen, liked and potentially “liked” by about fifty young people, which was not true.

The effects of Instagram on the human brain

By checking images of different brains obtained by magnetic resonance imaging, Sherman and his colleagues saw that a brain structure called nucleus accumbens it was activated as the image tasted the same. This is very relevant, since the nucleus accumbens it is responsible that we experience moments of intense pleasure by winning an award, having an orgasm, Drink a smoothie, etc.

This area of ​​the brain is responsible for detecting peak moments of pleasure and therefore has a role in the emergence of addictions and reward mechanisms responsible for trying to create situations for these “peaks of happiness” to be repeated the most. often possible.

The influence of others is infiltrating digital

But this research also drew another surprising conclusion: social media can encourage teens to engage in reckless actsThis also happens when they are physically accompanied by other people their age.

In both male and female youth who participated in the research, brain regions related to self-control and period tracking were relatively muted when they saw images related to risky behaviors, such as skateboarding on dangerous terrain or driving while taking pictures. .. even if they did not know the people to whom the photographs belonged. This effect was intensified if these photographs had a lot of taste..

To this end, we must add what we have seen before. Likes activate small brain structures of pleasure, which can not only associate the images themselves with well-being, but also the activities that can be seen in them.

Is there a reason the alarms go off?

The idea that participation in a social network like Instagram can encourage young people to take risks is still a hypothesis that has not yet been tested. After all, what has been seen in this research are just images of brain regions being turned on or off, and it has not been lived in real environments in which young people might try to be reckless.

However, these results give reasons to continue research in this direction, even if it is because we have the opportunity to know how to educate ourselves and educate ourselves in the use of social networks.

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