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Your brain shows if you are lonely or not

Social connection with others is critical to a person’s mental and physical well-being. How the brain maps relationships with other people in relation to one’s self has long been a mystery.

A Dartmouth study finds that the closer you feel to people emotionally, the more similarly you represent them in your brain. In contrast, people who feel social disconnection appear to have a lonelier, neural self-representation. The findings are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“If we had a stamp of neural activity that reflected your self-representation and one that reflected that of people whom you are close to, for most of us, our stamps of neural activity would look pretty similar. Yet, for lonelier people, the neural activity was really differentiated from that of other people,” explained senior author Meghan L. Meyer, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, and director of the Dartmouth Social Neuroscience Lab.

 

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