Tags: aging | memory | friendship | oxytocin

Friendships Boost Mind Health, Longevity

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Wednesday, 21 Dec 2016 04:08 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When we spend time with friends, our brains release oxytocin, a hormone that improves mood and protects against the negative impact of stress.

This hormone is more powerful in women, who are generally more socially involved than men.

Social interactions also reduce levels of various stress hormones, including cortisol. Research has shown that reduced cortisol levels are associated with lower risk for Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.

In addition, people with strong social ties have longer life expectancy.

Harvard scientists studied approximately 3,000 older individuals for more than a decade. When the researchers assessed the extent of social connections through records of time spent eating meals with others, playing team sports, and a variety of other social activities, they found that the study subjects who were more involved socially had significantly longer life expectancies.

Time with friends and family boosts a person’s confidence and self-esteem, and a stimulating conversation is a way to exercise brain cells.

For instance, the process of anticipating what someone else is about to say and how you might respond keeps neural circuits active and engaged.

In fact, these conversations stimulate neurons throughout the brain’s cortex, including the frontal lobe’s problem-solving and language circuits, the temporal lobe’s memory centers, the visual cortex in the back of the brain, and the sensorimotor strip on top.

And if the discussion gets emotional, the amygdala in the temporal region may also heat up.

 

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When we spend time with friends, our brains release oxytocin, a hormone that improves mood and protects against the negative impact of stress.
aging, memory, friendship, oxytocin
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2016-08-21
Wednesday, 21 Dec 2016 04:08 PM
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