Lectures and seminars Cognitive Neuroscience Club with Livia Tomova: "Effects of isolation on adolescent cognition"
The Cognitive Neuroscience Club is hosting monthly webinars on the topic Cognitive Neuroscience. On Thursday 19 May 2022 at 10:30, we welcome Dr Livia Tomova from University of Cambridge, UK. Join us in Biomedicum room A0412 or via Zoom.
"Effects of isolation on adolescent cognition"
Dr Livia Tomova, Henslow Research Fellow, Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, UK
Loneliness and isolation are increasing in societies all around the world, particularly in young people (Hammond 2019, Twenge 2019). Animal research has consistently shown that a lack of social interaction leads to increased reward sensitivity, higher anxiety and inflexibility during learning – particularly during adolescence (Tomova et al. 2019, Orben et al. 2020). Yet, it is unclear how well results from animal models of isolation can be translated to humans. Do social isolation and loneliness in human adolescents cause similar modulations in brain function and cognition? Previous research in adult humans has shown that acute loneliness affects brain functioning in a similar level as food craving after fasting (Tomova et al. 2020). Here, we assessed how short-term isolation of 3-4 hours affects feelings of loneliness and behavioural measures of reward processing (including reward responsiveness and reward learning) and fear learning in adolescents aged 16-19 years. We also assessed whether access to virtual social interactions mitigates the effects of isolation. We find that short-term isolation affects self-reported feelings of loneliness, reward processing and fear learning in adolescents. Access to virtual social interactions remediates some, but not all effects of isolation. The implications of this research in the light of adolescent loneliness and mental health problems will be discussed.