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We’re All Busy Bees, But We Were Born to be Social

Jul 13, 2012

by Brom Hoban, TSSA Director of Communications

Networking and socializing just may keep you younger and ward off Alzheimer’s.

No joke.

We’ve always known that networking and socializing is fun. And we’ve always known that it plays a positive role in our lives. But now researchers are telling us that it can do more than that, and they discovered the link by observing honeybees.

In a study published in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of Norwegian scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, demonstrated that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.

Believe it or not, the researchers were able to test bees’ learning abilities. They compared bees that stayed in the nest to care for larvae (a social activity) to lone bees that left the nest to forage for food (a non-social activity).

What they observed is that after just two weeks, foraging bees developed worn wings, hairless bodies, and loss of brain function – measured as “the ability to learn new things.”

But– and here’s the good part– when the older bees were placed back in the  nest to perform social roles, the researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50 percent of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had “significantly improved their ability to learn new things.”

Furthermore, they discovered a change in proteins in the bees’ brains. When comparing the brains of the bees that improved relative to those that did not, two proteins noticeably changed. They found a special protein – also found in humans – that can help protect against dementia – including diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

That’s pretty compelling research into the role of how being social affects us.

Sure we’re all busy bees these days, but it’s more important than ever to network and socialize. Join us on Facebook, use our Online Community, and perhaps most important of all, join us live and in person at TSSA’s upcoming Convention & Trade Show, set for October 14-16 at the Marriott Rivercenter and San Antonio Convention Center!

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