“Our results show that the experience of being alone has immediate consequences on brain gene activity. Clearly this is important for the human context, where loneliness (i.e., perceived social isolation) is a risk factor for psychological and neurodegenerative disorders. As the response occurs in brain areas involved in higher-order cognition and perception, these changes in gene activity may influence the ongoing processing of experience. Prior studies in humans have measured effects of social isolation in circulating leukocytes, but not in brain, and studies in mammalian models have typically focused on effects of much longer isolation periods (weeks or more). The results also bear on interpretation of animal experiments where short-term isolation is used to establish the baseline reference condition.”
George JM et al: Acute social isolation alters neurogenomic state in songbird forebrain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 117 (38): 23311-23316 (2020).