A recent study published in Psychological Science and led by a researcher at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences shows how loneliness affects our brains. This research shows how only people’s brain works differently from each other
Loneliness is known to harm well-being and often makes people feel misunderstood. The United States Surgeon General’s office even called it a public health crisis. Nearly half of U.S. adults reported loneliness before COVID-19.
"Comparing the brain imaging data between the two groups, the researchers discovered that lonelier individuals exhibited more dissimilar and idiosyncratic brain processing patterns than their non-lonely counterparts." https://t.co/LNgS6F1QO6— Dave's not here, Man (@davidfamlawyer) September 10, 2023
Elisa Baek, an assistant professor at USC Dornsife, led a study during her time at UCLA to understand loneliness better. They used brain scans on 66 college students watching various videos and assessed their loneliness using a survey.
As per the brain scans, Lonely individuals showed unique and differing brain patterns compared to non-lonely individuals. This discovery emphasizes that shared brain patterns are vital for social connections. Loneliness not only sets people apart from societal norms. It also makes each lonely person’s brain work uniquely, deepening their isolation.
“Lonely people’s distinct experiences are surprising. Their struggle to connect socially becomes even more challenging.”Elisa Baek, an assistant professor at USC Dornsife
The study raises questions: Does loneliness cause idiosyncratic brain patterns, or do these patterns result from loneliness? Regardless of friend counts, lonely individuals tend to have unique brain responses, suggesting that being around those with different worldviews can contribute to loneliness.
The study also suggests that changing social connections can affect how a person processes the world in a unique way. Baek’s future research will delve into those who have friends but still feel lonely and explore how lonely individuals process information differently in specific situations, like unexpected events or ambiguous social contexts.