Next-Gen

The Science Behind Fear

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by AG12345
Last updated 2 months ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
Psychology
Grade:
6,7,8,9,10,11,12

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The Science Behind Fear

This video from Brain Games talks about how certain objects or things trigger the amygdala, so you notice them quickly.

Fear is mainly triggered by a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is like your "alarm system," shown above. The amygdala controls emotions and instantaneous reactions, before your mind has gotten a chance to think about them. Even so, the process also relies on other parts of your brain, which make decisions and send information to the amygdala. "Warnings" include "pain and sound." Besides the amygdala, the main parts of the brain involved in fear include the thalamus (sends in sensory data), the sensory cortex (interprets data), the hippocampus (stores memories), and the hypothalamus (which signals the adrenal glands to "pump hormones" through your body).

The Science Behind Fear

Scientifically, What Really is Fear?

We all know what fear is, but in a scientific sense, what really is it? Fear is a "chain reaction" that takes place in the brain. It is initiated with a "stressful stimulus." During this process, the body releases many chemicals, and "cortisol [stress hormone] levels rise." This often leads to your "heart rate rising," fast breathing, and energized muscles., as shown to the right. Other functions of your body are "limited," to send more energy to your muscles, so you are "prepared to defend yourself from danger." Your body engages the "fight-or-flight" response, where one must choose to face the danger, or run away from it. Although not all of the situations we fear are actually dangerous, our body naturally prepares itself to take action. This is likely because our ancestors who lived in the wild had to deal with many threats, so the concept of "fight-or-flight" is evolutionarily ingrained in us.

What Do We Fear, And How Do We Develop Fear?

As different people, we all fear different things, so one has to wonder why this is true. According to research, there are two "innate" fears, or fears that we are born with. These are the fear of loud sounds and the fear of falling. The other fears we develop are called "conditioned fears." These are fears based on culture, influence from others, and our own personal experiences. This means that things that are considered dangerous in our society, and things that we know can hurt us, are often feared. Sometimes, rumors or inaccurate beliefs in our society can create irrational fears, where the things we fear are "minimally threatening."


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