More evidence of the damage from social isolation


Via Sciencedaily, I see that researchers discover a specific brain circuit damaged by social isolation during childhood

Loneliness is recognized as a serious threat to mental health. Even as our world becomes increasingly connected over digital platforms, young people in our society are feeling a growing sense of isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many countries to implement social distancing and school closures, magnifies the need for understanding the mental health consequences of social isolation and loneliness. While research has shown that social isolation during childhood, in particular, is detrimental to adult brain function and behavior across mammalian species, the underlying neural circuit mechanisms have remained poorly understood.

The ScienceDaily article is referring the research published in the paper A prefrontal–paraventricular thalamus circuit requires juvenile social experience to regulate adult sociability in mice in Nature Neuroscience, which unfortunately is behind of a paywall.

As is clear from both the extract I posted before, this is a study using a mouse model, so we should be careful to not draw too many conclusions from it yet. Yet, it does add to the generally accepted idea that social isolation can be harmful.

I think the ScienceDaily COVID-19 angle is problematic, as most people don’t experience total social isolation, but instead  experience limited social interactions and the use of technological solutions to keep contact with other people. Rather, I think the subject is more relevant for people kept in isolation in jails or refugee detention centers around the world. Here, the article is adding more fuel to the argument that isolation is a human rights violation.

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