A study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has found a link between activation in the left Nucleus Accumbens (NA) and rewards as a result of social recognition (e.g. Facebook Likes). The NA is a Dopamine rich area of the brain, often associated with rewards and reward learning. The study found that, while the NA was triggered when someone else received praise, the activation of the NA was much stronger when the consumers themselves received positive feedback. Furthermore, this activation corresponded with the intensity of Facebook usage (based on number of friends, time spent on Facebook, etc.) reported for the consumer. Activation of the NA as a result of monetary reward however, did not prove a predictor of Facebook Intensity.
Lead author Dar Meshi says that their study, “reveals that the processing of social gains in reputation in the left nucleus accumbens predicts the intensity of Facebook use across individuals.” The possible distinction between social gains and personal gains with regards to the NA will have important implications for Neuromarketers analysing campaigns for brands that tend to focus on one or their either (social vs. personal gains). The findings from the study may also have important implications for education and the workplace.