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  • eth = $2 932.67 16.03 (0.55 %)

  • ton = $2.28 0.03 (1.39 %)

2 Mar, 2023
1 min time to read

A study has shown that loneliness has a profound effect on the brain, as feelings of isolation prompt changes that further distance people from social contact.

Researchers at Neumayer III polar station in Antarctica monitored the brain chemistry and cognitive performance of eight expeditioners over 14 months and compared their results with a control group. The scientists found that the isolated team lost volume in their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and problem-solving.

They also had lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which nurtures the development and survival of nerve cells. These changes persisted for at least six weeks after the team’s return.

Chronically lonely people have an 83% higher mortality risk than those who feel less isolated. The physical and psychological toll of loneliness is profound, with 22% of Americans and 23% of British people saying they often feel lonely. Despite the desire to connect with others, circuits in the brain and changes in behaviour can trap individuals in a catch-22 situation.

Lonely people view others as unreliable, judgmental and unfriendly, and keep their distance, thus spurning potential opportunities for connection.