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John Cacioppo, one of the founders of social neuroscience, presented his pioneering research on the ways in which isolation or a sense of rejection deeply impacts both mental and physical wellbeing.
Loneliness disrupts not only thinking ability, will power and perseverance but also key cellular processes within the human body, potentially leading to high blood pressure, decline in immune response, and dramatic increase in the corrosive effects of stress. Using sophisticated tools, including fMRI, Cacioppo has documented how social isolation, distinguished from physical isolation, profoundly affects our body and behavior, suggesting that chronic loneliness could be considered as dangerous to health as risk factors such as smoking.
Cacioppo is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor at The University of Chicago, the director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, and the director of the Arete Initiative at the University of Chicago.
He spoke on Oct. 31, 2008 at the Cornell Bookstore.