Though largely associated with negativity, loneliness does seem to have some positive benefits to a person’s brain. Without the presence (or distraction) of other people, brain activity tends to increase in the more creative parts of the brain, including planning and reminiscing. Researchers found that people who spent more time alone had stronger and more voluminous creative areas than those who did not. Previously, loneliness had been linked to increased risk of dementia. The pandemic significantly increased the pool of potential participants, from hundreds to thousands.
The researchers hypothesized that certain parts of the brain were being used that typically weren’t required when socializing. However, they further hypothesized that while this part of the brain benefits from loneliness, a person’s ability to socialize could be degraded.
The study into loneliness hopes to better understand the risks of mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s because of the longer term isolation. While looking into this, the study found the unexpected benefit as they looked at the part of the brain most noticeably affected by loneliness, and that included the areas closely associated with future plans and creativity.
To help you feel a bit better if you are still in quarantine, check out the full article called Loneliness Can Help Grow Parts of the Brain Tied to Imagination, Study Finds.