Perceived Social Isolation and Cognition

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Oct;13(10):447-54. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.06.005. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

Abstract

Social species, from Drosophila melanogaster to Homo sapiens, fare poorly when isolated. Homo sapiens, an irrepressibly meaning-making species, are, in normal circumstances, dramatically affected by perceived social isolation. Research indicates that perceived social isolation (i.e. loneliness) is a risk factor for, and may contribute to, poorer overall cognitive performance, faster cognitive decline, poorer executive functioning, increased negativity and depressive cognition, heightened sensitivity to social threats, a confirmatory bias in social cognition that is self-protective and paradoxically self-defeating, heightened anthropomorphism and contagion that threatens social cohesion. These differences in attention and cognition impact on emotions, decisions, behaviors and interpersonal interactions that can contribute to the association between loneliness and cognitive decline and between loneliness and morbidity more generally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Social Isolation*
  • Social Perception*