Social media use is a global phenomenon. Neuroscientists are beginning to capitalize on the ubiquity of social media use to gain novel insights about social cognitive processes.
Social media provide platforms for users to satisfy fundamental social drives, such as connecting with others and managing one’s reputation with others.
Neural systems that support various types of social cognition have been established by research with offline behaviors. These neural systems should be involved in online social media use.
Neuroscientists can take two approaches when using social media in research. They can take advantage of similarities between on- and offline social behaviors, using measures from social media as a proxy for offline behaviors. Alternately, they can capitalize on differences between the on- and offline world, investigating behaviors unique to the online environment.
“The Emerging Neuroscience of Social Media” by Dar Meshi, Diana I. Tamir, and Hauke R. Heekeren in Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Published online November 11 2015 doi:10.1016/j.tics.2015.09.004