06/08 News Flash 3: The Neurobiology of Social Distance

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Social distancing” is a deceiving misnomer. While research has shown that it is important to keep physical distance to curb the spread of the coronavirus, there has never been a time when remaining socially connected has been as important as now––for the health of our minds and bodies alike. 

Recently, researchers at the University of Oxford and McGill University published a paper about the neurocognitive effects that social isolation can have upon our physical and mental wellbeing. According to Danilo Bzdok, one of the authors of the study, “Social species struggle when forced to live in isolation. From babies to the elderly, psychosocial embedding in interpersonal relationships is critical for survival.”

After reviewing literature on the subject, the authors reported findings that suggest that limited psychosocial stimulation could impact our brains by influencing our ability to reason, retain memories, and regulate hormone levels. Other effects also include making some among the elderly more prone to developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They also reported evidence that indicated that loneliness can have a detrimental effect upon the immune system.

(via Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2020, and