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Isolation can be damaging to your brain, new study shows

Doctors say this can be seen during the pandemic.

NEW ORLEANS — The comeback attendance of the French Quarter and Jazz Festivals were tremendous.

Scientist believe big events bring pleasure, because our brains were made for social interactions. Belonging to a group improves wellbeing and life satisfaction.

Now, a new study shows just how damaging isolation can be.

At Electric Girls science and STEM day camp, the campers are back in person and thriving. They are learning soldering, coding, electricity, robotics, and working with power tools. New Orleans Mom member Bryoni Prentice runs the camp and noticed a difference in her three daughters during pandemic isolation.

“They were sad all the time. You kind of see them spiraling down a little bit, because socializing is a big part of their lives, especially in school,” Prentice said.

Her daughters Blake, Kate and Brooke, are thriving being back.

“I like it. It's good, yeah. It's really fun, because we get to hang around people that we like and we know,” Bryoni’s daughters all chime in.

And now a new study published in Neurology, shows that social isolation is linked to structural changes in the brain that can be seen on a scan. That affects learning and carries an increased risk of dementia in older adults.

“Our brains slow down. We have a harder time thinking, or it would be a lot more likely as a psychiatrist I'd argue, to develop clinical depression, and very often that leads to cognitive impairment,” explained the Chair of Psychiatry at LSU Health, Dr. Rahn Kennedy Bailey.

He says this could be seen during the pandemic, a time when we couldn't visit senior relatives and children were kept out of school.

“I think that clearly, it was bad on top of bad for, I think, our community and our society. Children lost the ability to socially engage. You lose social skills, how to interface when there's some conflict, rather than fighting, learn to how to talk it through.” Dr. Bailey said.

That's what a lot of the girls in the camp, and even a mother, said that the girls are appreciative of being back with their friends and not being isolated. They didn't know what they are missing during pandemic isolation, and now they really want to share more.

“I think that we will, unfortunately, find more in the future than we know now, of deficits, limitations, less academic growth,” Dr. Bailey predicted.

But, he believes we can catch up and repair our brains by continuing to socially engage now.

The doctor says along with socializing, you can help your brain with challenging mental activities, exercise and including fish oil, blueberries, vegetables, turmeric and ginger in your diet.

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