Humans are social beings. In order to survive, they must interact with others. So people cannot develop if they are isolated. You can say that interacting with other people is the best way to fully develop the brain. In this article, we discuss the importance of socialization for brain development.
So it is very important to establish friendships. After all, this is positive for our mental health. It will also keep the brain as active as possible. So we can say that social people boost their brain health. By socializing, they protect their brains from cognitive decline and dementia.
Recent studies in biological anthropology demonstrate the importance of socialization in the evolutionary development of the brain. Without social relationships we would never have become what we are today.
Unfortunately, many cases have also shown what happens when a person spends the first years of life in isolation. This is the case, for example, with the so-called feral children or ‘wild children’.
In this article, we discuss how socialization can be beneficial for brain development. We also look at the negative effects of lack of socialization.
Socialization and the Origin of Humanity
Human beings have very complex brains. Thanks to our brains, we can develop a communication system through language. In addition, our brains allow us to make complex decisions. They make it possible to create things with our own hands and even dominate other species and the environment around us.
Daniel White is a specialist in brain evolution. According to him, socialization ensures that this enormous development can take place. He claims that living in a society has encouraged the evolution of our brains.
The different environmental and social conditions were stimuli that helped the brain to develop superior processes. This led to brains with a greater ability to remember things. It also gave people the ability to use language.
By comparing the human brain with that of other primates, we can appreciate exactly the importance of socialization for brain development. A chimpanzee’s brain grows during pregnancy.
When they are born, the brain is almost fully developed. Two years after birth, a chimpanzee brain is the size of an adult chimpanzee brain.
In human beings, the brain develops throughout pregnancy and beyond the first two years of life. So our brains only reach the size of an adult brain when we are seven years old. At this point, we are ready for our first simple social interactions.
The brain does not continue to grow. Yet the brain continues to develop until we are 25 years old. During this period, socialization plays a very important role in brain development.
The effects on the brain of a lack of socialization in childhood
A lack of socialization affects brain development in several ways. It does so much damage that it affects and slows brain development in general. This is especially the case in the first years of life.
Thus, the lack of social relationships that bring people into contact with quality interactions does not only affect mood and behavior. However, it also has an effect on cognitive health and motor skills.
A lack of socialization has even stronger negative effects during childhood. In the first years of life, people acquire and perfect many superior psychological processes such as language. To better understand these effects, we will discuss two specific cases.
The Story of Genie
Genie was imprisoned by her parents as a child until she was 13 years old. She had no emotional stimulation or opportunities for socialization of any kind. This prevented the child from acquiring language skills. She could only make certain sounds with which she reacted to external stimuli.
Specialists began to examine and treat her when she was 13 years old. Yet she never managed to speak a complex language fluently.
The story of the feral child from Aveyron
This is yet another similar case: the story of Aveyron’s feral child from the 1800s. He was a child of 12 years old. People found him in the department of Aveyron in France.
He climbed trees and walked around naked. Like Genie, he didn’t speak. He even walked like a chimpanzee. His parents had left him behind (or had died when he was little). So he had never socialized with anyone.
These two cases are specific examples of what can happen to a human being if they do not socialize.
Socialization and its importance for brain development
Socialization challenges the brain and keeps it active. It is especially important in the more advanced stages of life. After all, it can prevent mental decline caused by low brain activity.
So to enjoy these benefits, we must try to be as sociable as possible. Through conversations we need to interact with others. Writing is also a great opportunity.
The people who tend to be on their own can try the following things to socialize more:
- Schedule more meetings with friends and family: Even long and frequent phone calls can have the same effects.
- Join a club or an organization: Do activities you enjoy and make new friends. You will then occupy your body and your hands. Your brain will also stay active thanks to the socialization.
- Avoid social isolation: Go out, talk and exchange ideas with other people.
- Make friends who are older or younger than you: Older people can benefit from the mental and physical speed of young people. Young people can also learn new things from older people.
- Romantic Relationships: Even a romantic relationship stimulates the brain in many ways, provided the relationship is not toxic.
- Professional help: If you start to isolate yourself more, then you should seek professional help. There are telephone helplines and social centers that can help you. It may also be a good idea to see a psychologist.