How can social isolation increase hunger and insomnia? Trying to find science – health

Assine Estadão

Even those who love solitude know that man is a social animal. We love to live as a family, we eat and work together, talk and gossip as if we don’t have time. O Isolation It causes Stress And makes us suffer. No wonder solitary confinement is the worst punishment in prison. In addition, it causes isolation Pain E Depression. Numerous studies show that stress inhibits the immune system and increases the incidence Cancer, Heart problems and other diseases for which the relationship between stress is not clear.

Over the past year and a half, the vast majority of humanity has been driven to isolation. We live in a locked state, and the consequences are clear: depression, depression, insomnia, and weight loss.

The biological mechanism that links the lack of social contact with these diseases is still unknown. To this day they were believed to be psychosocial systems – no one suspected that they involved physiological or genetic systems.

Now, for the first time, the biological mechanism of loneliness has been studied using the famous Drosophila. This very simple brain fly was also found to have symptoms of loneliness when isolated.

Fruit bees are raised in hundreds of glass bottles per bottle, but it is very easy to put one in a bottle and see what happens. Because bees live 15 to 30 days, scientists have divided the bee population into three groups. The untreated group lived together in a large group for the rest of their lives. To mimic intense isolation, the bees in the second group were isolated for one day. To mimic chronic isolation, loneliness lasted seven days (about half a life, bad things). In solitude they had all the food they wanted, and were treated as if they were living in a group.

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Scientists have observed that people who are lonely one day sleep less and eat less. Those who were isolated for seven days slept less and ate more. Exactly what many people do in isolation. After the observations were made, the bees’ heads were cut off and their brains analyzed. The remarkable finding is that a total of 214 genes were modified in isolated bees.

As the genetics of these bees are known, it can be proven that a good portion of these genes are involved in the regulation of sleep and diet. That is, bees have a system that works differently on their brains when they are isolated. The scientists found that the differences occurred in a group of neurons called P2, which are involved in regulating sleep and diet. Then they made the experiment more interesting: they used a strategy to make these neurons more active. They found that when such a fly activates P2 neurons, it shows all the symptoms of an isolated fly for seven days.

These results show that the brains of these little bees have a mechanism that reduces the amount of time they sleep and increases their appetite when the bees are lonely. Interestingly, many of these genes that have been modified in loneliness are compatible with genes already present in mammals and humans. This raises the theory that we may have a mechanism capable of changing our brains when subjected to loneliness. This is not entirely unexpected, because social interaction is an integral part of our normal lives.

Inspired by the loneliness that scientists experience, this study is already the result of changes in their interest in infectious diseases. If you have recently slept excessively and gained weight, you can relax and blame some mechanisms, such as those on fruit flies.

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More info: Chronic social isolation indicates starvation and decreases sleep in Drosophila

* He is a Biologist, PhD, and holds a PhD from Colonel University and author. Advent of the new coronavirus in Brazil; Lotus Leaf, Mosquito Slider; E Long march of Grilos cannibals

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