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Why do you feel lonely? Neuroscience is starting to find answers.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/04/1008008/neuroscience-loneliness-pandemic-covid-neurons-brain/

technologyreview.com

Why do you feel lonely? Neuroscience is starting to find answers.
Long before the world had ever heard of covid-19, Kay Tye set out to answer a question that has taken on new resonance in the age of social distancing: When people feel lonely, do they crave social interactions in the same way a hungry person craves food? And could she and her colleagues detect and…

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Detecting Loneliness

Detecting Loneliness
  • Scientific literature has linked loneliness to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
  • Loneliness makes you more likely to fall ill by suppressing healthy immune function.
  • Biochemical changes from loneliness an accelerate cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.
  • The ability to detect and measure it could help identify those at risk.

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Loneliness is subjective

It's possible to be completely isolated and feel invigorated.

It is also possible to be surrounded by a crowd or be accompanied by close friends and feel lonely.

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Research on loneliness findings

  • Research showed that after social isolation, subjects' brain scans showed more activity in the midbrain when shown pictures of social cues.
  • When subjects were hungry but had not been socially isolated, they showed a similar reaction to food cues, but not social ones. This shows that the drive for social contact and for things like food seems to be represented in a similar way.

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Measuring loneliness

Objectively measuring loneliness in the brain, as opposed to asking people how they feel, could give clarity on, for example, the connection between loneliness and depression. It could also shed some light on addiction.

The ability to measure loneliness may make it far easier to design targeted interventions.

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The antidote to loneliness

The antidote to loneliness

When people were forced into social isolation, a light was also shining on another crisis - loneliness.

The antidote to loneliness is accessible to all of us: friendship. The shared global ...

Friendship

Science shows friendship is critical for our happiness, health, and longevity.

* In the 1970s and 1980s, some epidemiologists and sociologists showed that socially isolated individuals over age 66 had a 30 percent increased risk of early mortality.

* Studies reveal that social connection improves cardiovascular functioning, reduces susceptibility to inflammation and viral disease, sharpens cognition, reduces depression, lowers stress, and even slows biological aging.

Definition of friendship

Friendship requires at least three things: It should be long-lasting, positive, and cooperative. Friendship nearly always includes a willingness to help, especially in times of crisis.

In short, friendship is creating bonded groups that act as a buffer against life's stresses.

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Consequences Of Too Little Sleep

Consequences Of Too Little Sleep

It is common knowledge that we need to sleep to be our best. And constant sleep loss has serious effects, including death.

Sleep is a neurological activity, and still, sleep-deprived cr...

No Sleep = No Restoration

Sleep, according to deep research on flies, has a function of reversing the ancient biochemical process of oxidation. Without sleep, there is no restoration possible.

Sleep studies prove it is worse than starvation, as early studies (19th century) conducted on puppies showed that they died in about five days if deprived of sleep and kept in motion.

Reactive Oxygen Species

... or ROS is a molecule that builds up in the intestines of animals that are denied sleep.

  • Studies conducted on fruit flies and mice showed rising levels of ROS when kept in sleep deprivation.

  • Antioxidants, when given to sleep-deprived flies, made them healthy and active again, proving that the artificial restoration is possible.

Childhood amnesia

Childhood amnesia

On average, people’s memories stretch back no farther than the age of three and a half.

New science suggests that when we move into adulthood, the brain must let go of muc...

Our earliest memories are forgotten

  • In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud gave childhood amnesia its name. The most commonly accepted explanation for childhood amnesia was that children couldn't form stable memories until age 7 - even though evidence for this idea was lacking.
  • In the late 1980s, experiments revealed that children three and younger keep their memories, although it is limited. At 6 months of age, infants' memories last for a day, and by age 2, for a year. At around age 6, children begin to forget many of their earliest memories.

The early childhood brain

From birth to our early teens, we have far more links between brain cells. The excess brain mass is very adaptable and allows children to learn very quickly.

But the adaptability comes with a price. The large and complex network in the brain is still busy growing and not as capable of forming memories efficiently as in adulthood. Consequently, long-term memories created in our first three years of life are the least stable and prone to be forgotten as we age.