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Your Addiction to Facebook Is All Your Brain’s Fault

Bet Twitter has the same effect too.
Lock it up. (Photo: Smedio)

Lock it up. (Photo: Smedio)

Blame your constant craving of likes, shares and comments on the thirsty section of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

German scientists discovered that the appetite for improving your reputation on Facebook and how you use the social networking site is linked to a reward center in the brain — the same section that also craves more desirable things like booze, sex and financial gain.

Researchers discovered this after two days of tests at a university in Berlin. The 31 subjects were polled on a range of questions concerning Facebook, i.e. “Would they feel bad if Facebook shut down?” and “How many friends do you have?”

On the second day, they were hooked up to a brain scanner and played a card game to track their brains’ processes of winning a financial reward. They also watched videos of themselves posted to Facebook.

What they found shouldn’t surprise any of our selfish selves: Their brains reacted positively when their own videos were being praised versus when videos not starring themselves were discussed positively. The more often the participants used Facebook, the stronger their brains reacted to the compliments lauded on their videos.

“As human beings, we evolved to care about our reputation,” said neuroscientist Dar Meshi. “In today’s world, one way we’re able to manage our reputation is by using social media websites like Facebook.”

Not that we needed a fancy scientist to confirm this, but Mr. Meshi also said that our constant Facebook usage also has several negative effects, like poor grades, shitty office productivity and depression.

See you on App.net, everyone!

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com