Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Never before have we experienced social isolation on a massive scale as we have during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Lonely old man staring out of a window

A new paper published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences explores the wide-ranging, negative consequences that social isolation has on our psychological well-being and physical health, including decreased life span. The paper was co-authored by Associate Professor Danilo Bzdok (McGill University and Mila Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute) and Emeritus Professor Robin Dunbar (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford).

Through examining a broad range of studies, a full picture emerged of the severe impact that loneliness can have, namely that:

  • having strong interpersonal relationships is critical for survival across the entire lifespan;
  • social isolation is a significant predictor of the risk of death;
  • insufficient social stimulation affects reasoning and memory performances, hormone homeostasis, brain grey/white-matter, connectivity and function, as well as resilience to physical and mental disease;
  • feelings of loneliness can spread through a social network, causing negatively skewed social perception, escalating morbidity and mortality, and, in older people, precipitating the onset of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more on the University of Oxford website

Similar stories

Oxford vaccine reaches one billion doses released

The University of Oxford’s and our partners AstraZeneca have today announced that one billion doses of the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 coronavirus vaccine have been released, to more than 170 countries, marking a key milestone as part of the University and AstraZeneca’s joint vision to make the available to the world, on a not-for-profit basis for the world during the pandemic, and in perpetuity for low- and middle-income countries.

Research programme tackling COVID-19 variants of concern receives funding boost

A gift from the Red Avenue Foundation will enable the expansion of a major research programme aimed at rapidly identifying and interrogating emerging COVID-19 variants.

Phase I trial begins of new vaccine against the Plague

Researchers at the University of Oxford today launched a Phase 1 trial to test a new vaccine against plague.

New therapeutic targets identified in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis

Researchers identify two inflammatory-driving proteins, osteopontin and CCL2, highly expressed in psoriatic arthritis joints.

Treatment choice for rotator cuff disorders could create efficiency and savings for the NHS

A trial that evaluated the clinical and cost effectiveness of physiotherapy treatments for rotator cuff disorders suggests cost savings can be made while maintaining positive patient outcomes.