Can’t help skimming through your Facebook timeline even as you take a break from work? You may just be wired to do so as the brain prepares us to be socially connected to other people even when we get some rest, says a new research.
“The brain has a major system that seems predisposed to get us ready to be social in our spare moments,” said the study’s senior author Matthew Lieberman, professor at University of California, Los Angeles.
During quiet moments, the brain is preparing to focus on the minds of other people — or to “see the world through a social lens,” Lieberman said.
Tracking brain activity of study participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, the researchers found that a brain part called dorsomedial prefrontal cortex might turn on during dreams and rest in order to process our recent social experiences and update our understanding of the social world.
“It is part of a network in the brain that turns on when we dream and during periods of rest, in addition to when we explicitly think about other people,” Lieberman said.
“When I want to take a break from work, the brain network that comes on is the same network, we use when we are looking through our Facebook timeline and seeing what our friends are up to,” Lieberman said.
So although Facebook might not have been designed with the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex in mind, the social network is very much in sync with how our brains are wired.
“That is what our brain wants to do, especially when we take a break from work that requires other brain networks,” Lieberman said.
The study was published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.