Loneliness gives a different social brain


Loneliness can change the brain’s social network, which is quite essential for ones well being. The closer one feels to another, the more you represent them in the brain, according to a new study. The paper published in journal of Neuroscience said that people who are socially disconnected will have a lonelier and neural self-representation in the brain.

The researchers of Dartmouth Social Neuroscience Laboratory did the study. They used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to evaluate the brain activity of the participants when they were thinking about themselves, family members, close friends, celebrities and acquaintances. The study evaluated the brain activities of 50 college students. During the scan period, the participants were asked to make trait judgments about themselves, people they are closest to and their acquaintances, including five celebrities.

The study said that a part of the brain called medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) maintained a structured map of a person’s social network. The mPFC is a premotor area that projects to rostral ventrolateral medulla. This part is said to be involved in adult social brain, particularly human social cognition and behaviour. When a person was closer to another, they were more represented in the social brain. During this time, more powerful signals were shown in the PFC.

The researchers said that the brain pattern differed in lonely people. They found that the activity related to thinking about others was more different in lonely people. They said that lonelier people manifested less neural similarity between themselves and others in their mPFC regions. It said that the brain of sad or lonely people is less similar to his or her brain. In mPFC, they found that loneliness was associated with a reduced representational similarity between the self and others. They pointed out that social brain maintained information about broad social categories as well as closeness to the self.

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