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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Aug;1231:17-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06028.x. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Social isolation.

Author information

  • 1Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Illinois, USA. Cacioppo@uchicago.edu

Abstract

Social species, by definition, form organizations that extend beyond the individual. These structures evolved hand in hand with behavioral, neural, hormonal, cellular, and genetic mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped these organisms survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too reproduced. Social isolation represents a lens through which to investigate these behavioral, neural, hormonal, cellular, and genetic mechanisms. Evidence from human and nonhuman animal studies indicates that isolation heightens sensitivity to social threats (predator evasion) and motivates the renewal of social connections. The effects of perceived isolation in humans share much in common with the effects of experimental manipulations of isolation in nonhuman social species: increased tonic sympathetic tonus and HPA activation; and decreased inflammatory control, immunity, sleep salubrity, and expression of genes regulating glucocorticoid responses. Together, these effects contribute to higher rates of morbidity and mortality in older adults.

© 2011 New York Academy of Sciences.

PMID:
21651565
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3166409
Free PMC Article
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