Will lockdown loneliness make humans loners?
Over the past few months at least half of the world's population has been affected due to the Covid-19 lockdown, and many are experiencing the impact of social isolation.
Loneliness affects both mental and physical health, but counterintuitively it can also result in a decreased desire for social interaction. To understand the mechanics of this paradox, University College London (UCL) researchers based at the Wolfson Institute and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre investigated social behaviour in zebrafish. The results of the study have been published in eLife?.
Most zebrafish demonstrate pro-social behaviour, but approximately 10 per cent are so-called loner? fish who are averse to social cues and demonstrate different brain activity than their pro-social siblings.
However, even typically social zebrafish avoid social interaction after a period of isolation. PhD students Hande Tunbak and Mireya Vazquez-Prada, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Thomas Ryan, Dr Adam Kampff and Sir Henry Dale Wellcome Fellow Elena Dreosti set out to test whether the brain activity of isolated zebrafish mimics that of loner fish or whether other forces were at play.