Social Isolation May Change In The Brain, Increase Stress, Aggression, And Fear: The Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.
Social isolation has been a growing problem in modern society and has not only led to increased rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but to higher risks of chronic disease.
The mice isolated for two weeks showed behavioral changes like increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli.
When encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have socially isolating remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the risk is removing, the research said.
Although the study is doing in mice, it has potential implications for understanding how chronic stress affects humans and has potential applications for treating mental health disorders, said lead author Moriel Zelikowsky, the postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology in the United States.
Previous studies have determined that the social isolation for two weeks in mice resulting in the upregulation of the signaling molecule neuropeptide, tachykinin 2 (Tac2)/neurokinin B (NkB) which is the Short Protein Molecule.
In the new study, publishing in the journal Cell, the team found that chronic isolation leads to an increase in Tac2 gene expression and the production of a neuropeptide is called neurokinin B (NkB) throughout your brain.
But, administration of a drug that is chemical blocks NkB-specific receptors which are enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the harmful effects of social isolation.
On the other hand, artificially increasing Tac2 levels and activating the corresponding neurons in normal, animals led them to behave like isolated and stressed, the research showed.
Suppressing the Tac2 gene in certain different brain parts, increased fear behaviors, or aggression accordingly, implying that it must grow in different brain regions to produce the various effects of social isolation, the researchers say.
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