1st Nov 2012
The Science of Halloween: Fear
Imagine a gun’s rammed up against your temple, or a spider the size of your fist is crawling up your arm, or you’re lingering in the wings listening to the rumble of a thousand-strong crowd, waiting to hear you speak… We’ve all felt it: your hearts races, your muscles tighten, your breathing quickens, and adrenaline races through you. We call these intense reactions fear, which is basically an autonomic response controlled by the brain, meaning w don’t consciously trigger fear responses like we consciously speak or walk—instead, a stressful stimulus triggers them. Parts of the brain that play central roles in fear include the thalamus and the sensory cortex (dealing with sensory data), the hippocampus (dealing with conscious memories and processing of stimuli), the amygdala (dealing with emotions, threats and memories of past fears), and the hypothalamus (activating the “fight or flight” instinct). To induce “fight or flight,” the hypothalamus activates two systems: the sympathetic nervous system, which uses nerve pathways to initiate reactions like muscle tightening, increased heart rate and adrenaline rushes; and secondly the adrenal-cortical system, which uses the bloodstream to release about 30 different hormones. These prepare the body for sustained, vigorous action to deal with a threat, by either fighting or fleeing. Humans actually seem to be predisposed to fear certain dangers, thanks to ancient evolutionary instinct—because by fearing the right things, we survive.

The Science of Halloween: Fear

Imagine a gun’s rammed up against your temple, or a spider the size of your fist is crawling up your arm, or you’re lingering in the wings listening to the rumble of a thousand-strong crowd, waiting to hear you speak… We’ve all felt it: your hearts races, your muscles tighten, your breathing quickens, and adrenaline races through you. We call these intense reactions fear, which is basically an autonomic response controlled by the brain, meaning w don’t consciously trigger fear responses like we consciously speak or walk—instead, a stressful stimulus triggers them. Parts of the brain that play central roles in fear include the thalamus and the sensory cortex (dealing with sensory data), the hippocampus (dealing with conscious memories and processing of stimuli), the amygdala (dealing with emotions, threats and memories of past fears), and the hypothalamus (activating the “fight or flight” instinct). To induce “fight or flight,” the hypothalamus activates two systems: the sympathetic nervous system, which uses nerve pathways to initiate reactions like muscle tightening, increased heart rate and adrenaline rushes; and secondly the adrenal-cortical system, which uses the bloodstream to release about 30 different hormones. These prepare the body for sustained, vigorous action to deal with a threat, by either fighting or fleeing. Humans actually seem to be predisposed to fear certain dangers, thanks to ancient evolutionary instinct—because by fearing the right things, we survive.

This post has 242 notes
  1. random-untamed-soul reblogged this from arabian-mermaid
  2. arabian-mermaid reblogged this from sciencesoup
  3. kaitylamb reblogged this from ptrpvn
  4. theblackipino reblogged this from sciencesoup
  5. doublestandardsqueen reblogged this from sciencesoup
  6. teafulloflemon reblogged this from sciencesoup
  7. theimpossiblesociopath reblogged this from hedgehog-in-the-tardis
  8. hedgehog-in-the-tardis reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  9. anythingrandomlyinteresting reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  10. spaghetti13 reblogged this from b--reathe-me
  11. failureisntanoptionitsinevitable reblogged this from prettyboyangel-at-221b
  12. prettyboyangel-at-221b reblogged this from b--reathe-me
  13. b--reathe-me reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  14. wonderlandanddolphins reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  15. huntershalo reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  16. justtohavesomecompany reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  17. devianta reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  18. littleninjacupcake reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  19. terriblesmaug reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  20. sherlick reblogged this from theywillliveagaininfreedom
  21. theywillliveagaininfreedom reblogged this from sciencesoup
  22. pastthebarbary reblogged this from discriminated
  23. pennnyr0yal-tea reblogged this from discriminated
  24. discriminated reblogged this from ptrpvn
  25. askancegaze reblogged this from sagansense and added:
    I will post this as a belated Happy Halloween message. My beloved holiday of frightful intrigues.
  26. katykanban reblogged this from sagansense
  27. do-your-body-work reblogged this from sciencesoup
  28. dearjeni reblogged this from sciencesoup
  29. ztdofabysmalkids reblogged this from sciencesoup and added:
    Apparently panic attacks, anxiety, etc. work similarly/the same.