More TestTube Plus:
How Fear is Wired in Our Brains
What Makes Clowns So Scary?
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. So far, Trace has discussed how our brain reacts to fear and how some of our fears might actually be encoded in our genes. Today he explores why some people seem to like getting scared?
For some, that feeling of getting amped that goes hand-in-hand with getting scared is a pleasurable rush, but for others not so much. According to Chatham University professor Dr. Margee Kerr, "Not everyone enjoys being afraid and I don't think it's a stretch to say that no one wants to experience a truly life-threatening situation. To really enjoy a scary situation, we have to know we're in a safe environment. It's all about triggering the amazing fight-or-flight response to experience the flood of adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine, but in a completely safe place."
During a scary situation, one of the main hormones released is dopamine, and this shot of dopamine can be a fun little kick. Some people's brains lack what Vanderbilt University's Professor David Zald describes as "brakes" on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain. According to Glenn Sparks, a professor of communications at Purdue University, only about a third of people will actively seek out these "scary" scenarios for entertainment. One-third will actively avoid it. The remaining middle-third occupy a region where they can handle a scary situation up to a certain threshold: where that threshold lies is a boundary that they're curious to find out.
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!
Why is Fear Fun? (Discovery News)
"With Halloween approaching, it's hard to avoid ghosts, goblins and other spooky decorations. But some people go even further, seeking out horror movies and convoluted haunted houses that are designed to scare the living daylights out of them."
Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? (The Atlantic)
"This time of year, thrillseekers can enjoy horror movies, haunted houses, and prices so low, it's scary. But if fear is a natural survival response to a threat, or danger, why would we seek out that feeling?"
Modern phobias: The new fears caused by pressures of 21st century living (Mirror.co.uk)
"We are, it seems, a nation of nomophobes. That doesn't mean we are all now scared of garden ornaments - but that most of us are terrified of being without our mobile phones. According to a new study more than half of Brits suffer from nomophobia - an abbreviation of no-mobile-phone-phobia."
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."