Lifestyle: Impaired Face Recognition Associates with social isolation

A new study reveals that a solitary lifestyle can effectively affect the brains’ capacities to recognize faces, finds a study on wasps with implications on humans facing social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Paper wasps (a social insect)  recognises the brightly coloured faces of other paper wasps. But, when reared in isolation, they tend to lose the ability, according to researchers from Cornell University in New York, United States.

The wasps’ ability to remember faces is similar to primates and humans, but unlike other social insects, they noted. The findings, published in the journal Biology Letters, revealed that when adult wasps are housed in solitude, visual areas of their brains – especially those involved with identifying nuanced colour patterns and shapes – are smaller and less developed than their peers who lived with other wasps.

“The wasps provide us with a simple insect brain that offers a system for understanding the basic constructs of how neural circuits work and how social interactions shaped the brain,” said Michael Sheehan, Assistant professor at the varsity’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The study has implications on human patients forced to isolate themselves from family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected 138 million people and claimed 2.97 million lives globally.

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