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Each week on TestTubePlus, we cover one topic from multiple angles. This week, we are covering fear: What purpose does it serve, how its crippling our everyday lives, how to treat it, and more. For the first episode, Trace explains why fear is actually one of our most valuable emotions.
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts at the outset of a stressful situation thrust upon you and ends with the release of chemicals that can cause all sorts of things like: a racing heart, fast breathing, and energized muscles. A lot of things are going on in your brain when you experience fear. The fear response is a 100 percent autonomic response: no one chooses to be scared.
There are five main areas in the brain that manage the fear response: the thalamus decides where to send incoming sensory data, the sensory cortex interprets the data sent from the thalamus, the hippocampus stores and retrieves conscious memories to establish context, the amygdala decodes the emotions you are experiencing and determines whether or not the stimuli is a possible threat and is also in charge of storing fear memories. Finally the so-called "lizard brain"--the most primitive area of the human brain--the hypothalamus, triggers the "fight or flight" response.
TestTube Plus is built for enthusiastic science fans seeking out comprehensive conversations on the geeky topics they love. Each week, host Trace Dominguez probes deep to unearth the details, latest developments, and opinions on big topics like terrorism, alcohol, survival, black holes, the history of religion, dreams, space travel, the history of science, and more. TestTube Plus is also available as a podcast--click here to subscribe!
How Fear Works (How Stuff Works)
"The process of creating fear takes place in the brain and is entirely unconscious. There are two paths involved in the fear response: The low road is quick and messy, while the high road takes more time and delivers a more precise interpretation of events. Both processes are happening simultaneously."
What really happens when you're afraid? (Advocate Health Care)
"Your heart is pounding in your chest, your breathing is heavy, your hands are clammy and your muscles are tense. You're terrified, and whether it's from a fake zombie at a haunted house or something closer to reality, the reactions that your body goes through are no trick (or treat). But what are those reactions? What is really going on when you're scared?"
Why your brain shuts down when you're afraid (i09)
"Why can't you think straight when you're terrified? It's a question that haunted many people in the wake of yesterday's explosions in Boston, and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz explains the answer to you over at Time."