Neuroscience Shows How Interconnected We Are – Even in a Time of Isolation

Lisa Feldman Barrett: In a very real, biological way, we are connected to one another through body budgeting. Friends, family, and strangers can do and say things that send your spider sense creeping (or careening) this way or that, and you return the favor. In a moment of trust or affection, for example, heart rates or breathing may synchronize. When you raise your voice, or even your eyebrow, you might affect the chemicals carried in someone else’s bloodstream. These sorts of physical connections happen between infants and their caregivers, between therapists and their clients, among friends or lovers and even among people moving together in a yoga class or singing in a choir. People notice these body-budget tweaks mainly as changes in mood. Being the caretakers of each other’s body budgets is challenging when so many of us feel lonely or are physically alone. But social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Humans have a special power to connect with and regulate each other in another way, even at a distance: with words.

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