Don’t stay alone! Our brains are a little bit “crazy”!
People have different states when they are alone and when they are together with other people, and the state of brain gray matter is also different. French scientists found evidence of the social nature of the brain in brain neurons-some neurons are only activated when people are in a group. So experts believe that our brain will change the way it works when the same kind exists in the environment.
| The social properties of the brain|
If there is something more complicated and incomprehensible than Einstein’s theory of relativity, the concept of entropy or Poincaré’s conjecture, it is the human brain. Although the brain is the most complex object in the world, we always have a way to understand what is happening in it.
Valeria Gasalo, a researcher at the Dutch Institute of Neuroscience, said that we have an ability that no artificial intelligence can imitate, that is, to observe the behavior of others and transform it into our own perception. Although this sounds as simple as breathing, it is not. In fact, this requires processing and comparing all the information received from the outside, and feedback to our emotional and sensory systems. The superb intelligence, language ability, drawing level, literary attainments, and the ability to land on the moon that humans are proud of are far less important than social capabilities, because if humans do not know how to cooperate with each other, all the above will not be realized. Therefore, social competence is the core competence of human beings.
The deeper the study of the brain, the more we can discover that brain neurons always pay more attention to our kind. In 2016, German neuroscientist Martin Bruen and colleagues discovered that our brains are very concerned about the daily behavior of others and give priority to such information. Therefore, no matter how cute the animal videos on the Internet are, they cannot fully attract our attention because they are not human.
| Observational learning and empathy|
Usually we divide the brain nervous system into two types: excitement and inhibition. But researchers from the University of Trieste in Italy proposed in 2014 that we ignored the third category-social categories. The social brain is supported by independent neuronal circuits, dedicated to detecting all information related to our kind.
This ability allows us to spend a lot of time learning from other people, consciously or unconsciously. Experts call it “observational learning”, which is what people often say that the experience of others is the best teacher. Especially when it comes to dealing with dangerous situations, the cost of personal experience is too high. Learning from the experience of others can provide us with reference and bring certain survival advantages. This “observational learning” is different and independent of the brain circuits we use to extract information from our own experiences.
Another unique ability brought by the social brain is empathy. When seeing the dignity of others being insulted, the cerebral cortex structure will also be activated, making us feel embarrassed and at a loss. It is precisely because we can empathize with other people’s emotions, so we can put ourselves in the position of thinking for others.
So when we rest, what is the brain thinking? Research from Dartmouth University has shown that even when resting, the brain may be doing social learning. Researchers have found that when people are resting, the connection between the medial prefrontal cortex and the temporal parietal region of the brain will be strengthened. These two regions are mainly responsible for assessing the personality, mental state and intentions of others, that is, the brain will use rest Time to consolidate social information.
| Social facilitation effect|
However, the meaning that peers bring to us goes far beyond social learning and empathy. The neuroscientist Deris Paulsad of the French National Center for Scientific Research once said for example: “Imagine you sit in a classroom alone and take an exam. This exam is of great significance to your future. The surroundings are so quiet that you can only hear it. The footsteps of the invigilator teacher came closer and closer, and finally stopped by your side. You can feel the teacher staring at you every move, so at this time, are you so nervous that your palms are sweating?”
According to Paul Sade, the social inhibition effect makes us tend to believe that individuals will be less efficient due to the presence of others, so the above situation will have a negative impact on individual performance. On the contrary, with the company of others, we can often complete exams and other simple tasks better than when we are alone. This is the social stimulus effect, and why it’s easier to hold on running or cycling with friends than when you are alone.
In order to explore this phenomenon, Paulsad used a group of monkeys to do experiments and let them complete the task of image matching. This task, which involves only the prefrontal cortex of the brain, can be used to observe the difference between monkeys when they are alone and when they are accompanied by the same kind. The results show that these primates perform better when accompanied by their kind.
Paulsad also cited a life example: When you drive alone, the neurons responsible for steering the steering wheel are active. If you pick up a friend in the car halfway, his presence will enable you to activate completely different neurons when driving. In other words, depending on whether it is alone or accompanied by someone, the brain will activate different neurons to perform the same task.
You don’t even need to directly communicate, the existence of the same kind is enough to influence us. Whether it is taking notes or doing math problems, as long as there is someone nearby, even if there is no interaction, the way the brain works will be different.
This is why Paulsad believes that science has not done enough basic research on the brain, because most relevant scientific experiments are done by individuals in secluded rooms, and the brain’s working mode in a social environment is not the same as when alone. Time is completely different. He also believes that the brain can detect the presence of other people when humans are infancy, even when the sensory organs are formed and begin to function.
| Loneliness is harmful to health|
Spanish poet Gustavo Adolf Bekele once said: “Loneliness is very beautiful, but it will be so only when you say this to others.” In fact, long-term isolation will Cause damage to the human nervous system. In 2018, neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology found that after isolating experimental mice for two weeks, they would show stronger aggression to unfamiliar mice and become more sensitive to environmental stimuli. The researchers found that this is related to a neuropeptide secreted by their brains, which interferes with the normal function of various neuronal circuits. However, there are medicines for this symptom. After the mice were given inhibitors, the negative effects of loneliness on the mice were alleviated, and the mice became normal. This discovery verifies that the neuropeptide is the culprit of “autism” and is helpful for clinical treatment of mental disorders caused by long-term isolation.
| The loneliness behind social networks |
According to data from the World Health Organization, the average person uses social networks for 3 hours a day. The pathological behavior research conducted by the Spanish non-governmental organization Protégeles on the Internet shows that 21.3% of teenagers in Europe are at risk of indulging in social networks and electronic products, and 1.5% of teenagers have become addicted to the Internet. These Internet addicts spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer, tablet or smartphone, so that they ignore their relatives and friends.
According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh, the longer time spent on social networks and the more visits, the stronger people’s loneliness. Compared with subjects who visited these platforms more than 60 times a week, subjects who visited less than 10 times were twice as likely to experience loneliness.
Experts say that the abuse of mobile phones and social networks can affect brain development during infancy and adolescence. Exposing babies to mobile phones too early will affect their learning of social skills during this period, such as cooperation and empathy, which are essential for their future development and survival.
Paul Sad said: “I don’t want to think about this issue very much, but I can speculate that if it is not remedied, people in the future will become more like robots, and the brain will not be able to detect the presence of other people, nor understand how they feel. And intentions. Once humans lose the only social ability of this artificial intelligence that has not been successfully emulated, the consequences will be very terrible.”
Don’t stay alone! Our brains are a little bit “crazy”!