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Among monkeys, socializing is great for neurogenesis


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Other than antidepressants, there are a lot of things that can increase neurogenesis, as we might suspect.

 

As Social Network Grows, so Does the Brain

Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer

Date: 03 November 2011 Time: 02:00 PM ET

 

Monkey brains grow bigger with every cagemate they acquire, according to a new study showing that certain parts of the brain associated with processing social information expand in response to more complex social information.

 

"Interestingly, there are a couple of studies in humans by different research groups that show some correlation between brain size and the size of the social network, and we found some similarities in our studies," study researcher Jerome Sallet, of Oxford University in the U.K., told LiveScience.

 

....

Monkey studies

 

The researchers studied 23 rhesus macaques living in different size groups in a research facility; they had been in these groups for at least two months (the average length of time spent in their present group was more than one year).

 

These different groups each had a dominance-based hierarchy (except the one monkey that was caged alone). One's rank among male cagemates is dependent upon social interactions, including the ability to make friends and form coalitions, which grants the monkey access to valued resources.

 

The researchers scanned the brains of the monkeys using magnetic resonance imaging to gauge the sizes of different brain regions. They saw enlargements in gray matter in several areas of the brain associated with social interactions. On average, they saw more than a 5 percent increase in gray matter mass per extra cagemate.

 

The social brainwork

 

The boosted brain areas included the temporal cortex, inferior temporal gyrus, the rostral superior temporal gyrus and the temporal pole. Based on what scientists know about these areas, increases in gray matter there could "reflect an increasing need to decode the significance of the facial expressions, gestures and vocalizations of a greater number of individuals and combinations of individuals as network size increased," the researchers write in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Science.

 

The researchers then compared these brain scans with each male monkey's position within their dominance hierarchy. They saw several brain areas correlated to higher levels of dominance as well. Specifically, the inferior temporal sulcus and the prefrontal cortex showed size increases with higher dominance rating. These analyses accounted for social network size.

 

These changes in brain size are an example of the brain's plasticity, or its ability to change over time. Previous research has indicated that learning physical skills might be able to enlarge motor areas in the brain, but this hasn't been shown for social interactions. Especially for the correlation to social standing, these brain areas were probably expanding to deal with storing extra information about greater numbers of dominant and submissive cagemates.

 

Social Macaques

 

Unlike studies in humans, this study looking at macaques manipulated the "friend number" for months, and as such, could determine the direction of the correlation; it suggests social network size actually causes the changes in brain size. Previous human study data could be interpreted in two ways: either larger brain areas lead to larger social networks, or larger social networks change the size of brain areas.

 

But there are limitations to the new study findings. The monkeys' assignment to different groups was not completely random....

 

For example more gregarious animals might have been more likely to be housed in larger groups, though Sallet said this wasn't the case. "The monkey's social network was organized by researchers and didn't depend on the monkey's sociability in the groups," Sallet told LiveScience.

 

The study appears tomorrow (Nov. 4) in the journal Science.

 

http://www.livescience.com/16865-social-network-monkey-brain.html

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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Great info Alto. I had no idea that socializing would have such an impact on our brains like that. This is good to know, since I've isolated myself, aside from my immediate family. Maybe I'll start going back to the Spiritual Enrichment Center for Sunday service and get to know people. It's a bit scary to me though.

Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.

Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)

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Absolutely! Just go to sit with people. Non-threatening companions are soothing to our nervous systems.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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Your last comment was an AHA, Alto! Non threatening. I feel like I desperately need interaction, but am walling myself off in a protective stance; people who know me can hurt me more easily. Not intentionally, but in trying to help or say the right thing.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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I looked into communal living awhile back for this very reason.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Nothing like communal living for conflict!

 

A meditation community probably would be very calm.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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I found going to a church service (my preference - UU) and then wandering through the meeting room for coffee hour fills that need. I don't know anybody well, but they recognize me and smile, say hello, and it's very nice/soothing. The music is good too. It's also free and if I don't say a word, nobody minds/notices. So it's better than socializing with friends, because my friends may hit a nerve, or I feel more nervous around them because they may be judging my behavior/mood...not that they necessarily are even noticing my particular state.

 

I strongly recommend Unitarian Universalist meetings/services. They are not generally religious. Another avenue to soothing/quiet sociability is American Friend Society meetings. Again, totally accepting, very quiet (no music).

 

1989 - 1992 Parnate* 

1992-1998 Paxil - pooped out*, oxazapam, inderal

1998 - 2005 Celexa - pooped out* klonopin, oxazapam, inderal

*don't remember doses

2005 -2007   Cymbalta 60 mg oxazapam, inderal, klonopin

Started taper in 2007:

CT klonopin, oxazapam, inderal (beta blocker) - 2007

Cymbalta 60mg to 30mg 2007 -2010

July 2010 - March 2018 on hiatus due to worsening w/d symptoms, which abated and finally disappeared. Then I stalled for about 5 years because I didn't want to deal with W/D.

March 2018 - May 2018 switch from 30mg Cymbalta to 20mg Celexa 

19 mg Celexa October 7, 2018

18 mg Celexa November 5, 2018

17 mg Celexa  December 2, 2019

16 mg Celexa January 6, 2018 

15 mg Celexa March 7, 2019

14 mg Celexa April 24, 2019

13 mg Celexa June 28, 2019

12.8 mg Celexa November 10, 2019

12.4 Celexa August 31, 2020

12.2 Celexa December 28, 2020

12 mg Celexa March 2021

 

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I like Unity Churches for the same reason. It's more Spiritual instead of religious. New Thought churches too. The one here is called Center for Spiritual Living. I like to go for the same reason as you stated. It's good to be around all that positive energy.

Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.

Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)

My Paxil Website

My Intro

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The trouble for me with this is I get so anxious in public and around anyone really. The only person I can be around and not feel threatened is my uncle, and I see him rarely.

 

So it's better than socializing with friends, because my friends may hit a nerve, or I feel more nervous around them because they may be judging my behavior/mood...not that they necessarily are even noticing my particular state.

I have the same problem. And because of how w/d makes me, I feel like I cannot live up to their ways of being anymore, when they are all jokey and lively.

Off Lexapro since 3rd November 2011.

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