Imagine That!

Watercolor colors, brushes, and a notebook on a wooden table

Is your BRAIN looking lonely?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

What do you do when you feel lonely? Cry into a tub of ice cream…or use your imagination to create art, write poetry, or even paint! Could your lonely brain be filled with hidden gems?

Nathan Spreng from McGill University in Canada looked for loneliness in the BRAIN. Spreng’s research team studied forty thousand brain scans of people aged from forty to seventy. The researchers compared brain images between those who reported feeling lonely and those who didn’t.

Results? The difference appeared in a region of the brain called “the default network”.  It is responsible for imagination, reminiscing, and creativity. The team found that in lonely people, the default network is larger and has stronger connections. Why? The researchers speculate that lonely people tend to use their imagination and creativity a lot!

Spreng and colleagues hope that this study will help understand the connection between loneliness and health.

So, put down the ice cream and make a cute TikTok dance video with your grandma. Your brain will thank you!

Reference: Spreng, R.N., Dimas, E., Mwilambwe-Tshilobo, L. et al. The default network of the human brain is associated with perceived social isolation. Nat Commun 11, 6393 (2020).