As the restrictions on lockdown started easing across the globe gradually while allowing interaction and movement, a study throws light that how distancing may have altered our social habits and relationship patterns. With life returning to normalcy, many are falling prey to loneliness, anxiety, and reduced social interaction in the aftermath of the pandemic measures.
As per Republic World, UCL researchers at the Wolfson Institute and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre observed in a study published in the journal eLife. While according to a study, which was worked upon in the week before lockdown by UCL, depression levels would decrease in population particularly under 60, with lower household income, people with a diagnosed mental illness, people living with children, and people living in urban areas and youngsters might feel isolated.
To go to the complexities of this paradox, scientists performed an experiment with zebrafish, known to exhibit pro-social behavior like humans. As per the study, approximately 10% are ‘loner’ fish, are averse to social cues and demonstrate different brain activity than their pro-social siblings.
Ph.D. students Hande Tunbak and Mireya Vazquez-Prada, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Thomas Ryan, Dr. Adam Kampff, and Sir Henry Dale Wellcome Fellow Elena Dreosti tested the brain activity of isolated zebrafishes and found that the isolated fishes had increased activity in brain regions related to stress and anxiety.
To study the hazards of isolation, researchers separated themselves typically social zebrafish from other fish for a period of two days and then drew a comparison of their brain activity with other fishes, as per the published study. The isolated fish demonstrated sensitivity to the loneliness demonstrating anxiety which was reduced with the drug.
A detailed view of the zebrafish brain can provide important clues for all of us currently experiencing the effects of social isolation, said Dr. Elena Dreosti.
Further, he added, Our understanding of the neural mechanisms of social behavior is limited, but we do know that zebrafish and humans share a fundamental drive for social interaction that is controlled by similar brain structures.
The interaction with the social environment and the impact of prolonged isolation is, many inter-related to each other, humans might feel abandoned despite the lifting of the lockdown amid the pandemic, the study established.