Many have heard of it, Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s that inexplicable, debilitating illness that takes 90-year olds and magically (sometimes hilariously) makes them think they’re in their 20’s again.  A lot of people attribute it simply to a mental decay.  The memory portions of the brain stop functioning correctly and patients begin forgetting the most important things.  Where they left their keys, the faces of loved ones, even how to perform the most basic functions that young people take for granted.

For those who aren’t aware, the famous Seth Rogen actually addressed Congress on the subject almost three years ago (yes, the same guy who fought a Zac Efron-led fraternity).  He championed an effort to bring more awareness and emphasized the point that the young don’t give enough credence to Alzheimer’s. Eventually it will become their disease to fight, be it through the affliction of loved ones or upon themselves.

He may be more right than all of us (including himself) realized.

In an age where technology reigns supreme, where countless memes exist of cell phones overtaking face-to-face interaction, where people base their satisfaction with social status on how many “likes” their selfies get, people may be more at risk than ever before.  A new study has shown that the latest possible contributor to Alzheimer’s disease is…get ready, introverts…

Loneliness.

In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry by Dr. Nancy J. Donovan et. al., a test of 78 participants around age 76 measured cortical amyloid levels (a fancy way of saying how at risk someone is of developing Alzheimer’s based on plaque deposits within the brain) and used a standardized loneliness scale to determine any relationship between the two.  Results showed a strong direct correlation between amyloid-positive participants and their reported loneliness, ratcheting their loneliness factor as much as 7.5 times higher than those in the amyloid-negative group.

Big deal!  I’m nowhere near my 70’s.  What does this have to do with me?

Well, if you’re at all a regular reader here on Me, Myself & Robot, I’m sure you’re no stranger to the progress of technological innovation.  If you’re at least a millennial baby, I’m sure you’re no stranger to social media and how it’s run rampant in today’s society.  Between a culture that promotes getting ahead in life to getting on with life and social networking to just plain socializing, we’re at the forefront of seeing these effects take center stage by the time we as a generation reach our golden years.  And those 90-year-olds who seem so detachedly comical in their state of delusion may just be us before we even realize it.  Or don’t realize it.

Watch Seth Rogen address Congress on C-SPAN:

 

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