Article

Effect of social interaction on the brain

October 2020
By Impact Mémoire

Many people have had a difficult time in recent months, with lockdown measures bringing most social activities to a halt. Already, several studies have shown that this lack of social interaction has had a real psychological impact, compounded by feelings of anxiety. 

Social relations and social interaction among individuals are hugely important. Their effects are not only psychological but also neural.

This is true for two reasons:

  • The mirror neurons, present from birth, which enable the brain to copy and imitate what it sees. The copying mechanism is so effective that the brain mentally simulates the action, as if it were really doing it. Created by our social environment, this mimetic capability profoundly transforms each individual. Contact with others is absolutely crucial to the development of relational intelligence. 
  • The mood-regulating hormones released during social interaction, which shape the way we perceive individual experiences. A kiss, a hug, a laugh with friends, and anger too – all the emotions triggered by shared moments release hormones that transform the brain. This has a real impact on the human body with both short- and long-term effects.

Social isolation is not only psychologically damaging, it also impacts the brain, primarily by suppressing the generation of new neurons. A recent study (Stahn & al, 2019) focused on explorers in Antarctica who spent fourteen months living in isolation, without human interaction. The results showed that long periods of solitude cause shrinking of some parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, a component that is essential for memory and learning.

Solitude is thought to lead to a lack of brain stimulation, owing to the lack of social relations and interaction

While social relations have declined in recent months, consumption of audiovisual content has risen significantly. Average screen time has increased by 30%, peaking at nearly five hours a day (Mediamat[1] monthly 05/2020: Médiamétrie(survey in French).

As cognitive experts, we would like to underline a fact that is probably even more true today. Regardless of the medium, emotion is the key to effective advertising.

Emotion is triggered by a look, a smile, interaction, light, music… The strength of a brand – today, tomorrow and in the future – lies in the emotion it conveys, emotion that touches and excites. This is how it can build real and lasting appeal. 

Intermarché 
Je désire être avec vous 
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Cartier 
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Renault Clio 
Le nouveau chapitre d’une grande histoire
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[1] Benchmark for measuring television audiences in France