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May 9, 2012

Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation? Me, myself, and I

Daily Briefing

Updating your status on a social network or sharing your opinion on a subject could serve an evolutionary purpose, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Diana Tamir, a graduate student in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at Harvard University, and a colleague scanned the brains of participants as they did certain activities. In one experiment, 78 participants shared their opinions on topics such as their preference between coffee and tea, and judged the opinions of others in photographs. In another experiment, 117 participants discussed their personality traits and those of the current U.S. president.

The researchers found that certain areas of the brain—linked to value and motivation—were more active when participants talked about themselves. These areas are responsible for the thrills of food, sex, money, and drug addiction, Tamir notes.

The researchers are further investigating whether the behavior is tied to the instinct to create social bonds. Tamir notes that prior studies show that "the more you self-disclose to someone, the more you like them, the more they like you," which could be connected with forming social bonds (Dotinga, HealthDay, 5/7).

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