Hunger and Loneliness Activate Similar Areas in the Brain

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Source: dreamstime.com

By Emma Wu

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been isolated from the rest of humanity for quite a while. Hunger is also something that we have all experienced as well. Scientists have discovered that these two states of hunger and isolation are linked. It turns out that hunger and isolationism activate the same area of the brain. This says a lot about the human’s natural tendencies to talk with others as social animals. During such a case as the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much isolation, thus causing the same craving for social interaction, the same way one craves food when they are hungry. 

The area of the brain that activates in loneliness as well as hunger is called the substantia nigra. A study came out testing this correlation. In the study, researchers had a group of people fast for ten hours and another group of people spend 10 hours in a room with no social contact or social media. After using an fMRI to scan the brain once the 10 hours was up, the scan showed that the amount of activation in the substantia nigra correlated with the amount of social or food craving that the participant had. This shows that hunger and loneliness tends to mean around the same to humans as a species. Enjoy the social interactions that you have!

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