Novelty is your brain’s favorite food.
This article is letter (N) of our “Human Connect” series where we write an article for each letter of the phrase. “Human Connect” explores how relationships will change in the digital age. Find links to more articles in the series below.
New stuff is fun. And fun stuff is usually new. Turns out, recent research shows seeking novelty is literally hardwired into your brain. It’s why we scroll and scroll through our favorite sites and social media feeds for new, exciting content. So let’s check out some ridiculously cool, new stuff, learn why we like it so much, and how you can apply it to connect with your brand’s audience.
The Newest And Coolest
What’s going on in the world? A brain-to-brain network that allows three people to share their thoughts. Let’s just repeat that so it sinks in. Three people can Share. Their. Thoughts. More of a first stage experiment rather than dystopian mind control, participants test the brain network by collaboratively playing a Tetris-style game.
The network itself relies on recording brain electrical activity, sending and receiving only simple “bits” data at a time, and flashing LED’s at different frequencies for participants to focus on. We’re not at telepathy levels quite yet.
Being this article is part of our weekly theme on Human Connection, can you imagine how much a fully-integrated brain network could change how we relate and connect with each other? The phrase “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” takes on a whole new meaning.
Why Do We Like Novelty So Much?
One benefit of experiments like the one above is to help understand the brain better. In another study, researchers are also learning about the brain and it’s reaction to novelty thanks to fMRI scanning. What did they find? The brain’s dopamine pathways lit up:
“You’ve probably heard about dopamine before, and its effects on the brain. It’s often touted as a ‘reward chemical’ or part of the brain’s ‘reward center,’ but more recent research has shown that, like novelty, it’s actually more closely related to our motivation to seek rewards rather than being a reward itself.”
In other words, new things give you a rush of motivation to seek and explore because you are anticipating a reward. Think back to the last time you traveled and visited a new city. It’s newness was exciting and you couldn’t wait to explore it because you wanted to see landmarks, meet local people, and have one-of-a-kind experiences.
Create Novel Content
So how do you apply this, dear reader, to your own life and specifically, your online brand or eBusiness? Creating quirky, weird, and unexpected content can help your brand be more memorable to your audience. The above study reveals novelty also positively activates a person’s memory. When the completely new is mixed with the familiar, “subjects’ memory for slightly familiar information was boosted by 19 per cent.” So while your audience is laughing at the cat memes on your Instagram, that content also unconsciously primes them to remember you.
Here are just a few examples of unique, weird, memorable content:
This article goes over peeling the plastic off something you just bought to finding that one special curly fry in your order of normal french fries. This article relates to all those oddly satisfying simplicities in life no one really talks about but a lot of us experience.
Did you know that today, “In London Alone, about 93,000 rats will be born?” No... we didn’t know that either. And now that we know it, we can’t un-know it. Thanks novelty-based memory. (Shudder)
The brain is an amazing place where we all live. Who knows? Soon, we may be able to even visit each other’s brain through a brain-to-brain network. Until then, we’ll all still be looking for new stuff to keep us motivated and refreshed.
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You can find links to more articles in the “Human Connect” series below. Thanks for reading! And see you next time.
This article is part of our “Human Connect” series where we write an article for each letter of the phrase. “Human Connect” explores how relationships will change in the digital age.
Click below to read more articles in the “Human Connect” series: