What social distancing does to a brain

Have you recently wondered how social-distancing and self-isolation may be affecting your brain? An international research team led by Erin Schuman from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research discovered a brain molecule that functions as a “thermometer” for the presence of others in an animal’s environment. Zebrafish “feel” the presence of others via mechanosensation and water movements – which turns the brain hormone on.

“Our data indicate a surprising role for a relatively unexplored neuropeptide, Pth2- it tracks and responds to the population density of an animal’s social environment. It is clear that the presence of others can have dramatic consequences on an animal’s access to resources and ultimate survival – it is thus likely that this neuro-hormone will regulate social brain and behavioral networks,” concludes Schuman.