Reward processing in excessive and problematic use of social media: a neurophysiological study.
Background: Internet has been promoting a variety of excessive behaviours, among which is the use of social media use. Albeit for most persons such behaviour is recreational, there is a group of persons particularly vulnerable to a problematic use of social media, which compromises their physical, mental, and/or social well-being. In recent decades, research has sought to understand what leads a behaviour to become an addiction, with an increasing number of behavioural addictions being recognized. The main goal of this study was to examine the neurophysiological correlates of economic and social decision making in persons with different levels of social media use.
Methods: This study involved 25 participants. In the first phase, all participants completed an online survey composed by a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale, and the Internet Severity and Activities Addiction Questionnaire (ISAAQ). In the second phase, the participants performed a computerized version of the Monetary Incentive Delay Task (e-MID Task) and an adapted version that incorporated social feedback (the Social Incentive Delay Task; SID Task). Both tasks were performed during the recording of neurophysiological data. Event-related potentials were analysed, namely the P3 and the Feedback Related Negativity (FRN), both time-locked to feedback events.
Results: Results about the effects of the social media use on both P3 and FRN amplitudes in Fz and Cz sites, respectively, will be reported.
Conclusion: This study revealed neuronal changes in the reward processing mechanisms, which may underlie excessive and problematic social media use. Simultaneously, it provided the opportunity to validate experimental tasks with greater ecological validity for the study of this phenomenon.