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  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

Are You a Well-Trained Animal? Neuroscience Says YES

I love it when science and research throw us a right hook to the face to wake us up and get us thinking. A recent study published on February 26th, 2021, in the journal Nature Communication reveals interesting information on social media use. Researchers found a pattern of “reward learning” is used to get us to behave much the same as an animal who is being trained to seek food rewards.

Think mouse, maze, and food reward, only human style.

The researchers found our use of social media, specifically when our efforts are to maximize “likes,” follows a pattern of “reward learning,” which parallels the behavior of animals such as rats seeking for food. David Amodio, one of the researchers and a professor at New York University and the University of Amsterdam, took it a step further when he stated, “These findings may help us understand why social media comes to dominate daily life for many people and provide clues into reward learning and addiction.”

The research battle rages on whether social media has positive or negative effects on our brains. We do know that social media is targeted toward hitting your brain in the right place, at the right time, and releasing the right chemicals. Hence, you may behave as if you belong in the zoo, exhibiting specific behaviors and being rewarded with food. If you think this could never be you, see what you crave next time you are waiting or bored. Did you head right to social media? Just like the mouse racing through the maze to get its reward. The only problem is you didn’t have to navigate a maze. The information sure hits different when explained that way!



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