We have all experienced loneliness over the past year more than in the past. Children and young people closed in their rooms to follow lessons away from their classmates, the elderly without contact with family members to protect themselves from contagion, the many who now work almost always or almost from home; not to mention the isolation of those who tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 and fell ill with more or less severe symptoms. There solitude, already a life partner for many, has spread and unfortunately makes itself felt even more in the days of celebration: even this year Easter with whoever you want will be a day alone for many, without lunches with friends or trips out of town. And more than chocolate eggs we will be hungry for hugs and chat, at least according to the most recent studies on the subject: a research published on Nature Neuroscience and discussed during the last congress of the Italian Society of NeuroPsicoPharmacology (Sinpf), for example, showed that the brain of those who suffer alone as if we were forced to fast from food.

The experiment

To discover the effects of loneliness on brain activity, some volunteers were isolated from any human contact for ten hours and then underwent a functional magnetic resonance (in order not to distort the results by meeting the researchers, the participants were even instructed to be able to fit yourself into the machine correctly); then, they were fasted for 10 hours and again analyzed with resonance. The results show that theprotracted isolation lights up the substantia nigra, abrain area that is activated in the same way also with the desire for food. We have a social brain, which needs human contacts just as we need to eat to live: this is not a metaphor, this is proved by these data, according to which, moreover, the effects of isolation are more evident in those who, before finding themselves for a long time from he alone had a life full of satisfying social relationships, observes Claudio Mencacci, Sinpf co-president and director of the Asst Fatebenefratelli-Sacco Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Milan.


March 30, 2021 (change March 30, 2021 | 16:59)

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