Neuroscientists have found in a special study that lonely brains crave people similar to hungry people who perk upon seeing food. A human brain after a period of isolation thinks of social gatherings and the neurons in the brain give strong responses to the pictures of people.
Cognitive neuroscientist Livia Tomova, while working at MIT, along with her colleagues had carried out a fasting event for 10 hours by making 40 people participate in it. It was observed that certain nerve cells in the midbrain gave a strong response to pictures of pizza and chocolate cake at the end of the day.
Tomova, now at the University of Cambridge, says the findings speak of the current state of humans who are isolated in their houses due to the coronavirus pandemic. The neurons present in the substantia nigra pars compact and ventral tegmental area lead to the release of dopamine which is a chemical messenger for a reward.
The team of neuroscientists also made the same people participate in 10 hours of isolation. During this time, they were not allowed to meet their friends or use their social media platforms. In the evening, neurons in the same region of the brain got activated in response to pictures of people playing sports or chatting.
It proved that hunger and isolation lead people to develop strong responses for food and people. However, the social responses were not that sharp in people who generally remain lonely in their daily routine. The midbrain makes people respond to food and social signals even if they are not hungry or lonely. But the intensity of social signals increases when people feel hungry and lonely.