The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has incited an array of social, psychological, and emotional burdens among adolescents and adults. The lockdowns, social distancing measures, and general anxiety surrounding the virus have produced an unprecedented and pervasive degree of social isolation, particularly amongst adolescents. Social isolation has deleterious effects on physical and mental well-being and is a critical risk factor for morbidity among adults. However, the neural and physiological underpinnings and consequences of social isolation have yet to be fully explored. Social isolation has been understood as a source of chronic and early stress, with various developmental consequences. In the past decade, researchers have found the stress associated with social isolation to worsen the development of epilepsy, among other neuropsychological disorders. There are various mechanisms and regions involved such as the GABAergic system, which is the neural system regulating GABA neurotransmission. There is a growing consensus in the scientific community that changes in the GABAergic system stemming from social isolation can lead to a lower seizure threshold. This leads us to not only ask whether the GABAergic system, and other systems involved with neurotransmitters, could be affected by social isolation, but also whether this corresponding change in neurophysiology leads to a lowered seizure threshold. Our objective is to better understand the effects of social isolation on epilepsy development. The broad, long-term objective of this work is to provide clinicians with a framework for how to properly intervene and target therapies for neuropsychological disorders that might arise from early life stress.
Chesner, Will; Twadell, Kaitlyn; Pham, Elise; and Wright, Sydney, "Effect of Social Isolation on Seizure Susceptibility through GABA-ergic Mechanisms" (2021). Library Undergraduate Research Award. 8.