MONDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Got something to report about yourself? An opinion, perhaps, or a status update? Nobody may care except you, but new brain research suggests you can make yourself feel good simply by sharing.
Participants who talked about themselves showed signs of activity in the areas of the brain that are linked to value and motivation, said Diana Tamir, lead author of a study published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"This helps to explain why people so obsessively engage in this behavior. It's because it provides them with some sort of subjective value: It feels good, basically," said Tamir, a graduate student in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at Harvard University.
Indeed, the researchers found that the regions of the brain that are activated by talking about oneself are also responsible for the thrills of food, sex, money and drug addiction, Tamir said.
The findings are more than a scientific curiosity, Tamir said, considering how much time people spend discussing themselves. By one estimate, 30 percent to 40 percent of your speech has to do with you.
"Self-disclosure is a behavior that we do all of the time, day in and day out: When you talk to people, they'll often talk about themselves," Tamir said. "On Twitter and Facebook, people are primarily posting about what they're thinking and feeling in the moment. This is one piece of evidence about why we may do that."
In the study, Tamir and a colleague conducted several experiments on subjects whose brains were scanned as they were told to do various things.
In one experiment, 78 participants alternately disclosed their own opinions -- about things like whether they preferred coffee or tea -- and judged the opinions of others whose photographs they looked at.
In another experiment, 117 people alternatel
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