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A study on brain imaging reveals that lonely individuals tend to process the world idiosyncratically

By: April Carson

A recent study in Psychological Science explored the link between loneliness, brain function, and social interactions. The findings propose that people who feel lonely may process social information differently from those who don't, leading to sensations of isolation and disconnection.

The study found that lonely individuals often interpret social situations in a more negative light and overgeneralize their experiences. This could lead to increased feelings of loneliness, as well as the avoidance of further social interactions.

The study underscores the crucial role of social connections in maintaining psychological well-being. It highlights the necessity for further exploration in this domain to create effective interventions that can aid individuals grappling with loneliness to enhance their social connections and overall quality of life.

As social beings, humans thrive on connections with others. Studies indicate that social isolation and loneliness may lead to depression, anxiety and can even increase the risk of heart disease and death. It's clear that social connection is crucial for both physical and mental health.

Fortunately, loneliness is a treatable condition and there are many ways to combat it. Reaching out to friends, family or even community resources can have profound effects on one's mental health. Taking time for self-care activities like yoga, journaling or simply going for a walk can also be beneficial.

Loneliness is more than just being alone - it's a deep-seated feeling of disconnection from others. Unfortunately, it's an all-too-common experience that can impact anyone, regardless of age and background. This is especially true for young adults, with research indicating that as many as 80% of college students face feelings of loneliness at some point during their academic journey.

Social connection is essential to our wellbeing, and feeling understood by those around us plays a crucial role in achieving it. When people feel that others truly get them, they're more likely to behave in helpful and cooperative ways, leading to a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment in life. So, strive to really understand those in your circle, and watch as positive emotions abound.

A recent study conducted by Elisa Baek and her associates delves into the link between inter-subject correlations (ISCs) in brain activity during a naturalistic movie-watching task and feelings of loneliness. ISC is the measure of similarity in brain activity between multiple individuals. These measures have been utilized in previous studies to explore how individuals react to social information.

The study gathered information from 66 freshmen aged 18 to 21 in a large US public university. The participants were observed via functional MRI while viewing a movie clip featuring a socially significant interaction. The said approach enabled the researchers to delve into the brain activities of individuals exposed to natural social stimuli as opposed to synthetic laboratory settings. "Our results provide strong evidence that loneliness is associated with a decreased ability to synchronise brain activity with others," said Baek.

The study found a correlation between increased loneliness levels and reduced ISC in key brain areas, including the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and superior temporal sulcus. These regions play a fundamental role in social cognition and processing social information. Hence, the findings highlight how loneliness can lead to a disconnect between individuals and their environment.

The research suggests that loneliness-related difficulties in processing social information are deeply rooted in our brains. It is essential for us to develop better approaches to address these issues and have a deeper understanding of the effects of loneliness on mental health. Further exploration into this field could be beneficial in helping those struggling with loneliness and promoting social connectedness.

Baek and colleagues' research indicates that lonely individuals process the world in a unique way, which may lead to feelings of not being understood. Interestingly, their neural responses are vastly different from one another and from non-lonely individuals. This suggests that loneliness has a profound impact on how individuals interact with the world around them.

The study shows that loneliness is rooted in the brain, indicating that those who feel lonelier might have trouble processing social interactions and may be more prone to negative emotions. The findings also offer hope that addressing social connections could help reduce feelings of loneliness.

"Our findings underscore the importance of social connections in maintaining psychological health," said Baek. "By looking at neural responses, we can gain valuable insight into how loneliness and its associated difficulties with processing social information are manifesting."

Although loneliness is a pervasive issue, it's not something that has to be endured in silence. By understanding the neural basis of loneliness, researchers can develop further interventions to help individuals who are struggling with loneliness to enhance their social connections and overall quality of life.

In their study's summary, the research team concluded that perceiving the world differently than those around us is correlated with feelings of loneliness. Therefore, even if we regularly engage with people who have varying perspectives, their presence may still contribute to loneliness. This indicates that having a differing viewpoint may act as a risk factor for loneliness. "These results encourage further research into developing interventions that focus on understanding, rather than trying to change the way people perceive social information," said Baek.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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