Loneliness changes the way the human brain perceives relationships, and can cause nerves to react “more alone” to different types of relationships than non-lonely people,media reported. The findings are based on an MRI scan of the brain that focuses on activity in the inner prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that stores the “map” of the individual’s social network.
The study, from Society for Research, found that loneliness changes the way the brain reacts to thoughts of self, celebrities, friends, and simply acquaintances.
Brain activity is different in each type of relationship in non-lonely people, but more similar in lonely people. The study found that among lonely participants, the brain activity of thinking about themselves was far from that when thinking about different categories of others. This difference can lead to lonely people feeling that they are more at a gap between themselves and others, including those they consider to be friends. This activity reflects this perception and highlights the profound changes that loneliness has profoundly changed on the brain itself.