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Medicine Science

Dissecting the Neural Circuitry of Fear 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the evolved-incentives-to-change-your-pants dept.
al0ha writes "Fear begins in your brain, and it is there — specifically in an almond-shaped structure called the amygdala — that it is controlled, processed, and let out of the gate to kick off the rest of the fear response. In this week's issue of the journal Nature, a research team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology has taken an important step toward understanding just how this kickoff occurs by beginning to dissect the neural circuitry of fear. In their paper (abstract), these scientists ... describe a microcircuit in the amygdala that controls, or 'gates,' the outflow of fear from that region of the brain. The microcircuit in question, [Professor David J. Anderson] explains, contains two subtypes of neurons that are antagonistic — have opposing functions — and that control the level of fear output from the amygdala by acting like a seesaw. 'Imagine that one end of a seesaw is weighted and normally sits on a garden hose, preventing water — in this analogy, the fear impulse — from flowing through it,' says Anderson. 'When a signal that triggers a fear response arrives, it presses down on the opposite end of the seesaw, lifting the first end off the hose and allowing fear, like water, to flow.' Once the flow of fear has begun, that impulse can be transmitted to other regions of the brain that control fearful behavior, such as freezing in place."
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Dissecting the Neural Circuitry of Fear

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  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:40PM (#34207752)

    Please put your hand in this little box...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tickety-boo (1206428)
      I'm afraid I can't do that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:52PM (#34207896)

      I must not fear.
      Fear is the mind-killer.
      Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
      I will face my fear.
      I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
      And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
      Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
      Only I will remain

      • Fear is good. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps you alive. A person without fear would rapidly become dead, as there would be nothing preventing them from taking crazy risks. And if you say someone can make a rational appraisal of risks, I am telling that a person doing such a rational appraisal will wander into traffic in their fearlessness while they are doing their cognitive calculations.

        When people identify fear as a negative impulse, they are actually complaining about things that stupid people fear, which are usually artificial constructs, and are usually controlled by fearmongering demagogues spreading propaganda for political purposes. Yes, this is wrong, but fear is only a piece of that puzzle, and not even the lynchpin.

        Fear itself is not wrong, only what stupid people fear is wrong. I have fears in my life, and I'm glad I do. It keeps me alive, it even motivates me. It would be a shame to disregard such potent neural circuitry just because of some political hangups that have nothing to do with you.

        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday November 12, 2010 @02:36PM (#34209218) Homepage Journal

          Fear itself is not wrong, only what stupid people fear is wrong. I have fears in my life, and I'm glad I do. It keeps me alive, it even motivates me.

          Absolutely. Fear guides our actions in many ways, and generally for the better. Applied properly, it can help us make quick decisions with sufficient accuracy in situations where there simply isn't time to apply rational analysis. The decisions aren't always as good as rational decisions would be, but they're generally not too far off, and often doing nothing is even worse than doing something that isn't quite right.

          For example, I teach concealed weapon permit courses, and one of the major challenges faced by any rational, law-abiding person who decides to carry a deadly weapon is to learn how to decide under what circumstances they should use it. In the course I cover the ins and outs of the law, but there's no way anyone can apply that knowledge in the split second available during a possibly-deadly encounter. It's too complex and too abstract.

          So in addition to the law, I teach people to train themselves to use their fear, to assume that if they draw and fire their gun they will go to prison for it, and so they should only use it in circumstances where they fear the consequences of not shooting even more than that. This "balance of opposing fears" is something that can be done on an emotional level -- with "the gut" --, and it can be done very quickly. Not to mention the fact that the standard of justification in the law is based on the presence of "reasonable fear", so if you're a reasonable person and you have a great fear, then you should be legally justified when the DA and/or jury gets around to weighing your actions against the minutiae of the law.

          Of course, some people are more afraid of prison than of dying, so it might not be a good standard for them.

          (Aside: This being slashdot, I know I'm going to get some responses saying that anyone who wants to carry a gun already has a broken "fear sense", but that's simply untrue. I have taught many, many people and the only ones I've met who decide to carry out of a sense of fear really DO have reason to fear -- mostly women with dangerous and unstable exes. Mostly, people who decide to carry do it more out of a sense of determination that they do not want to be a victim. Not that they think they're likely to be victims, but they see it as a reasonable precaution, much like having a fire extinguisher in their car and house.)

        • by seven of five (578993) on Friday November 12, 2010 @03:12PM (#34209634) Homepage
          As someone who's struggled for decades with irrational and useless phobias, I really wish my fear had an off-switch. I would've gotten a lot more enjoyment out of life, and saved a lot in therapy bills and medications. It's an adaptation that kept our ancestors alive, but now it's mostly baggage.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by radtea (464814)

          Fear is good. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps you alive.

          Which fear is that?

          Your post, and the others here praising fear, are excellent examples of innumeracy: you treat the world as it existed in real binary categorical terms "fearful" and "fearless".

          The real world is a bit more floating point than that.

          I suffer from a deficit of physical fear, yet I am still manifestly alive.

          I routinely judge things based on rational probabilities. I once walked out into a fairly busy highway to remove some debris that had forced me to swerve. I could see from basic kinemati

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by eggstasy (458692)

            You can probably get by without fear in a nanny state ruled by the fearful masses, where everything has to be made perfectly safe, but try doing that in the jungles of your ancestors, where danger awaited around every corner...

          • Fear is good. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps you alive.

            Which fear is that?

            This one?

            "Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hardwired not to always think clearly when we're scared,” Obama said Saturday evening in remarks at a small Democratic fundraiser Saturday evening. “And the country's scared.”
            -President Barack Obama

            If fear is the reason the house has switched from de

        • by hrimhari (1241292)

          When people identify fear as a negative impulse, they are actually complaining about things that stupid people fear, which are usually artificial constructs, and are usually controlled by fearmongering demagogues spreading propaganda for political purposes.

          I knew those spiders were up to no good!!!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bar-agent (698856)

          Fear is good. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps you alive. ... Fear itself is not wrong, only what stupid people fear is wrong. I have fears in my life, and I'm glad I do.

          Yes. The litany the GP posted, below, is not about denying fear, but rather about keeping control when the fear instinct would get you killed. Paul Atreides was being tested. He had to keep his hand in the box even though it felt like his hand was being burned/shredded/destroyed; if he removed his hand, he'd get stuck with the poisoned needle an

        • A person without fear would rapidly become dead, as there would be nothing preventing them from taking crazy risks.

          Actually, a person with extremely attenuated fear tends to become psychopathic.

          Apparently an occasional dose of fear/love/hate/excitement is rewarding. (Perhaps not having occasional scary/angry/loving/excited events indicates you're not taking enough risks with your life and as a result are probably missing opportunities.) Thus scary movies and TV shows, risky sports like racing, skydiving,

        • by jez9999 (618189)

          When people identify fear as a negative impulse, they are actually complaining about things that stupid people fear

          I think it's extremely unfair to describe people who have irrational fears as 'stupid people'. You're thinking of certain irrational fears; racism, xenophobia, etc. I have severe social anxiety disorder and don't consider myself 'stupid'; not as a whole, anyway. You don't have to be insulting.

    • by thijsh (910751)
      Wasn't that how pain works? I believe it was the prospect of death by Gom Jabbar that instills the fear in the subject.
      • by MRe_nl (306212)

        But the pain was "illusionary", the test was about overcoming your fear and resisting the urge to remove your hand. Or that's how I remember it anyhow.

        • by thijsh (910751)
          Pain and the illusion of pain are the same, pain is a strangely psychologically influenced phenomenon. What you mean is that it gave the impression that your hand was burning while it actually wasn't... but the pain was very real!
    • by CarlosM7 (642308)

      Oh, but somebody will die [wikipedia.org] if I do that.

    • What's in the box?
  • Remove it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by falldeaf (968657) <falldeaf@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:41PM (#34207768) Homepage
    I wonder if the repercussions of removing the amygdala completely would be catastrophic to the person. In a society where we don't necessarily have direct predators, would a fearless person be more bold and have less stress? I wouldn't mind a boost in either of those traits. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Look,

      They just want raw, killer soldiers - who won't come back with either PTSD or a human soul.

      This is the kind of research that begins looking lie rational inquiry into the determining mechanisms of everyday psychology, and ends in horrors.

      • by dintech (998802)

        It would be interesting to discover if soldiers do the right thing because they are good or because they are afraid of the consequences. Next stop insubordination and war crimes.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Did you mean "stop insubordination"? If yes, you should read about "Miligrams Experiment"
          • by kent_eh (543303)
            No, I think he meant:

            Next stop: Insubordination.

            As spoken by a bus driver or train conductor
        • by radtea (464814)

          I'm not sure what you mean by "do the right thing"... but if you mean "obey orders" then I'm pretty sure you'll find that as fear is reduced so is obedience.

          But you have to think this through at all levels: if fear is sufficiently muted there would be no war and therefore no soldiers. Wars are a product of the way humans use violence to induce fear in others and reduce fear in themselves.

          It isn't clear what kind of society humans would be capable of sustaining without fear. We would be more mobile, more

      • by sorak (246725)

        Look,

        They just want raw, killer soldiers - who won't come back with either PTSD or a human soul.

        This is the kind of research that begins looking lie rational inquiry into the determining mechanisms of everyday psychology, and ends in horrors.

        If it happens, blame the gunman, not the gun.

      • If you'd watched Firefly, you'd be all over this, including the stripping the amygdala thing to eliminate fear and create monsters...

        Isn't it amazing how science fiction can be used to investigate the dilemas of human existence?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:52PM (#34207894)

      removing the amygdala completely

      It's not worth it, trust me.

      -River Tam

      PS: Also, I can kill you with my brain.

    • by rastilin (752802)
      That's a good point, they probably would be bolder and have less stress. I wonder if they might also end up dead faster from bad judgements; like attempting things they're unskilled at that have large negative outcomes (driving on an icy road, attacking a mugger without training or a weapon)? What I would love to see is a drug that lets you suppress a dose-Dependant chunk of your fear for a period of time. Would that still allow you to instinctively protect yourself while letting you take fairly consequence
      • by falldeaf (968657)

        That's a good point, they probably would be bolder and have less stress. I wonder if they might also end up dead faster from bad judgements; like attempting things they're unskilled at that have large negative outcomes (driving on an icy road, attacking a mugger without training or a weapon)? What I would love to see is a drug that lets you suppress a dose-Dependant chunk of your fear for a period of time. Would that still allow you to instinctively protect yourself while letting you take fairly consequence free risks?

        Exactly, that would be incredibly interesting to find out about. And being able to lessen fear response instead of removing it would mitigate risk for the individual.

      • cocaine, lsd, and plenty of other drugs suppress fear (and many of the other senses...)
    • by brainboyz (114458)

      Fear reduction and removal would be completely different. Fear is part of the indicator that keeps you from repeating dumb mistakes. If you walk into the road w/o looking and almost get hit by a car, you'll probably be more cautious next time. W/o fear, you'd probably walk blindly into the road regardless of what happened last time unless you were actually thinking about it. Fear is that safety meter you want intact.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Fear is necessary to function in all levels of society - not just fear of death. I need to fear losing my job in order to keep me from yelling at my boss. I need to fear the slap of a women before I drop the worst pickup lines of the century. I need to fear the reprocussions of the law before I go rob a bank.

      A "Fearless" person would have no place in our world. Sometimes it is fear which drives us to do the right course of action.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, it has been shown that many serial killers have a lower or muted sense of fear (startle response, etc).

        Also, ask a bipolar person about the stupid shit they do in their mania state (which can override emotions like fear).

        I once took an SSRI antidepressant and it removed nearly all emotion from me, including fear. It was unpleasant and extraordinarily dangerous to say the least.

      • by falldeaf (968657)
        See, I wonder about this idea. I understand your point and it's true that I would feel fear at the idea of slapping someone I was mad at but I don't think that's the reason I restrain myself. There's plenty of rational reasons not to run into the middle of the street or slap your boss. This argument kind of reminds me of the religious argument that without a god giving laws there's no reason to be moral or lawful, when in my opinion there are many rational reasons for both. (I'm not trying to lump you in wi
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I agree with your point - even without fear you would still have your rational logic (supposedly, we don't know exactly what would happen when you remove this chunk of the brain).

          But assuming that you DO still have logical reasoning and you think "It's in my best interest to NOT rob a bank" - at what point do you then get a benefit by removing the gland? Essentially fear is designed to help your survival - it's not always right - like the deer in headlights freezing when something is heading your way, but t

          • by falldeaf (968657)
            That's actually a really good point, I'm not a horror movie buff or anything but I do really enjoy some fear inducing activities. I went sky diving a couple years back and it was really incredible. Interestingly though, I don't remember feeling any fear or nervousness during the experience because of a combination of things. I think I knew rationally that there was minimal danger and I also happened to be going through a bad break-up and up until the moment I was falling It was pretty much the only thing on
          • by witherby (976998)
            I definitely agree. I'm not so sure that you'd be able to reason properly without fear, though. I can't remember the specifics, but I read a case a couple years ago about test subjects who through some kind of brain injury had lost the ability to feel emotion. They were not only emotionally numbed, but also logically and rationally impaired.

            Here [mybrainnotes.com]'s a site devoted to more-or-less the same thing.

            "'In Animals in Translation, Grandin and Johnson write: "We humans tend to think of emotions as dangero
      • You don't need to fear a consequence to not desire it, or more strongly, desire not having that consequence.

        I feel no fear standing on a curb next to a busy freeway, but I know that if I jump out into traffic, I will likely be killed or maimed. I do not want to be killed or maimed, therefore I don't jump out into traffic no matter how much I don't want to wait to cross the road. It's more than possible to make rational self-preservation decisions, it's done all the time.

        A child might need fear to stop from

        • Lacking fear would suck when it's time to run from a bear, or stay awake all night to guard against zombies, but honestly ask yourself when the last time that jab in the gut really helped you out in today's society?

          Thats where your logic falls apart - the fear would not help you run from a bear or survive with Zombies anymore than it would keep you from running across the street - your logic of holding your rational decisions without fear would hold true in any scenario - in which case, you might think that living entirely without fear would be beneficial - all you seem to observe from fear is the irrational decisions that people make because of fear.

          Ask myself when the last time the jab of the gut helped me in today'

      • by mdielmann (514750)

        I need to fear the slap of a women before I drop the worst pickup lines of the century.

        I thought it was the desire to get laid that prevented that.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        No, you just need to be more rational about your boss and your personality.

        Fear is an irrational cause for your actions, whether they are beneficial or not. It will lead you to do the wrong thing as easily as the right thing. Rationality can not, as long as you have the necessary information and know right from wrong.

      • by jez9999 (618189)

        I need to fear the slap of a women before I drop the worst pickup lines of the century.

        Actually, that's a fear I'd desperately love to do away with, for my part. :-)

    • Indeed, they are catastrophic. I would gamble that you would become a robot devoid of emotion processing and recalling. The amygdala is much more than fear processing.
    • I'm guessing there would be a number of strange and unpleasant side effects. The fact that many people in industrialized nations are "fear seekers" (horror movies, roller coasters, extreme sports, videogames, etc.) suggests that there is an inherent desire/need in the human brain to feel fear on a regular basis. With a complete inability to feel fear, it's reasonable to assume a person would become dangerously unstable. Might manifest either as adrenaline junkie tendencies, or as some sort of dissociative d
      • I'm not so sure.

        Lots of stuff in our minds are multiplexed, and there's a word I can't think of right now for "inefficient medicine" such as drinking an energy drink for the energy because it's nice rather than taking a boring pill.

        The Dopamine Cycle is all scrambled up in this, and it's not at all clear if we do those activities *to feel fear* or *get a dopamine burst*.

    • by toxonix (1793960)
      You'd pretty much be a vegetable without them. There are no isolated components of the brain AFAIK. Removing or damaging anything will have multiple effects. If you damage the amygdala, you might lose the fear response. You'd also lose the ability to form long term memories. You'd lose any notion of protecting yourself from harm of any kind. You'd allow people to abuse you, and have no emotional response to the abuse or fear of it. It would be terrible, but you would have no clue.
      • by falldeaf (968657)
        Hmm, being a vegetable would probably be pretty stress free but I don't think I've ever considered a carrot bold... well, unless it's used as an ingrediant in a spicy carrot cake.
    • by UpnAtom (551727)

      You'd lose your sex drive too which, as a Slashdotter, might also be helpful.

    • You might also just decide to go on a murderous rampage, being no longer fearful of life imprisonment or death. Does fear alone mitigate such behavior, or are there other factors involved?
      • by falldeaf (968657)
        That's really hard to say... I feel like the rational reasons not to go on a murderous rampage are *more* of a reason than the fear of punishment. But is fear subconciously the true driver, regardlesss? Who knows?
    • by immakiku (777365)
      How about the opposite? What are the consequences of systematically introducing low doses of fear to our daily lives? We might all become sheep. This is the kind of thing harmony-seeking governments would want to have control over.
    • by ThinkWeak (958195)
      Does this also control you from harming yourself in normal settings? Here are a few examples:

      Getting into a shower and being tentative of the temperature. If you do not have any fear, would it even cross your mind to test the temperature or would you just step in and burn yourself?

      In a military setting, would you see a lot more accidental shootings by individuals who do not turn on the safety of their gun? You usually turn the safety on to not misfire the weapon and accidentally shoot someone (ie. afrai
      • by hrimhari (1241292)

        Getting into a shower and being tentative of the temperature. If you do not have any fear, would it even cross your mind to test the temperature or would you just step in and burn yourself?

        I don't fear the pain or the temperature. I know I don't like the pain, so I'll be cautious.

        If, in the other hand, I wouldn't take a shower because I once got burned, even if I know that I can control the temperature, that would be pure fear.

        In a military setting, would you see a lot more accidental shootings by individuals who do not turn on the safety of their gun? You usually turn the safety on to not misfire the weapon and accidentally shoot someone (ie. afraid of killing someone or afraid of the consequences of shooting someone)

        Again, could be fear or a rational decision. "Being afraid of" is often just a figure of speech. The soldier is probably really afraid of being killed, but I'm not so sure he's really afraid of accidentally shooting someone else, except for the reaction of his peers.

        Peo

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wierd_w (1375923)

      The amygdala has other neurological functions, including regulating/originating aggression. (there is LOTS of literature on that one.) It also plays a significant role in the retention of emotional memories, and emotional states.

      Removal of the amygdala would be very bad for humans. It would result in a kind of severe autism.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala [wikipedia.org]

    • by Stregano (1285764)
      Go ahead and remove yours. When the zombie apocalypse happens, you will be the guy without fear running into a crowd of zombies distracting them while I run away
    • The amygdala also plays a critical role in emotions. It is effectively an interrupt prioritizer for not just fear but other emotions. It may be responsible for a person being able to stop smelling the pretty flowers when a tiger looms, and other cases where one must choose which current goal to pursue. If you consider emotions as metrics of the current success or failure level of key types of goals, and the amygdala as the analytic device for those metrics, you can see how the brain chooses which goals unde
    • I seem to recall that the amygdala mediates a LOT more than just fear. Damage to (both of) it apparently produces: ... overreaction to all objects, hypoemotionality, loss of fear, hypersexuality, and hyperorality, a condition in which inappropriate objects are placed in the mouth. ... an inability to recognize familiar objects, approaching animate and inanimate objects indiscriminately, ... loss of fear towards [possibly threatening organisms] ... reduction in maternal behaviors towards infants, often phys

  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:42PM (#34207778)

    Fear is the path to the dark side.

  • Autism? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdotNO@SPAMexit0.us> on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:48PM (#34207836) Homepage
    I wonder if they'll try the same techniques to study Autism?
  • Fox News. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Xoltri (1052470) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:49PM (#34207854)
    That's funny, I thought fear response was controlled by Fox News.
  • worrying (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mlong (160620) on Friday November 12, 2010 @12:55PM (#34207930)
    I wonder how this applies to worriers? Like the people afraid of every possible thing that could wrong. And what part of the brain controls more general fears like the fear of death?
    • Re:worrying (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 12, 2010 @01:05PM (#34208064) Journal

      Couldn't that be described as a "chemical inbalance" in the brain? As in, the the see-saw isn't pinching the hose enough to turn it off?

      • Pretty much everything going on in the brain is a "chemical imbalance", in the end it's all chemistry. If it was perfectly balanced then it'd be static, nothing going on at all.

        The world however is FULL of retarded monkeys who think that the phrase "a chemical balance" conveys meaning when talking about processes within our neural structures.

        What the retarded monkeys are TRYING to say is more like "an unwanted chemical imbalance" or "an atypical chemical imbalance" (ie that the "typical" balances are wha
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kent_eh (543303)
      I'm more interested in what implications this has into dealing with paranoia (as in full-on psychiatric disorder, not the popular usage of the word) .
      I have seen what paranoid delusions can do to a person, and it ain't pretty.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by butalearner (1235200)

        I'm more interested in what implications this has into dealing with paranoia (as in full-on psychiatric disorder, not the popular usage of the word) . I have seen what paranoid delusions can do to a person, and it ain't pretty.

        That is an interesting question. I must be a bad person, but my first thought was the opposite of most commenters:

        Can we hook up electrodes and magnify fear, say, for the purposes of obtaining a confession? It's a slippery slope I admit, but I would guess that the amount of stimulation is important. Especially if you can inflict a major mental disorder on the suspect.

        If this is blatant Geneva Convention-breaking torture, I apologize for my ignorance; the UN definition is so vague you could consider impri

        • If this is blatant Geneva Convention-breaking torture, I apologize for my ignorance; the UN definition is so vague you could consider imprisonment a type of torture. I figure it seems far more "humane" than waterboarding at least.

          Seriously folks, that's the worlds bigest copout.

          The point of the Geneva Convention was to draw a line in the sand. If there's ANY question that it might possibly be turture, then it is.

          The primary concept is this: if you were innocent, were detained for questioning, and THEY did THIS to YOU ... Would you be TOTALLY PISSED , or would you think they were being perfectly reasonable?

          • If this is blatant Geneva Convention-breaking torture, I apologize for my ignorance; the UN definition is so vague you could consider imprisonment a type of torture. I figure it seems far more "humane" than waterboarding at least.

            Seriously folks, that's the worlds bigest copout. The point of the Geneva Convention was to draw a line in the sand. If there's ANY question that it might possibly be turture, then it is. The primary concept is this: if you were innocent, were detained for questioning, and THEY did THIS to YOU ... Would you be TOTALLY PISSED , or would you think they were being perfectly reasonable?

            Sorry, I didn't see your reply until just now, so this will probably be buried (and I'll forget to check it too).

            I was thinking my idea was more inline with a lie detector test, perhaps augmenting it. An electrically-induced form of intimidation where the usual tactics (isolation, etc.) don't work.

            Frankly, your definition of torture is still unhelpful, because I would be pissed if I was detained for questioning in the first place. I would be extremely pissed being in jail waiting for a trial, losing wages

  • Most people assume the prominent almond shaped structure in the brain is the amygdala. But the real amygdala stays in the background, pretending to be an innocuous assistant or something and communicates with the prominently placed fake amygdala through complex undetectable chemical signals. This is done for security and the protection of real amygdala. Only on very rare occasions when the fake amygdala is assasinated the real one comes forward and one realizes how well they have been fooled by these securi
  • Queen Amigdala, regulator of the Phantom Menace... There, mnemonic device sorted.

  • It keeps us from doing dangerous things. Its the response that needs to be modified. In some cases, the 'freeze' response can be retrained to be something more appropriate, like taking cover, assuming a defensive posture or running.

    Fear is what keeps us from clicking that submit button before making a stupid .... [Oh crap!]

  • That seesaw/garden hose analogy is really tortured. In fact, I think it could easily induce fear in the faint hearted.
    • Yeah, where’s the car analogy?

      • by mangu (126918)

        It's like a garden hose stretched across the driveway. A car is parked with a wheel sitting on the hose preventing water from flowing. When a signal that triggers a fear response arrives, it releases the parking brake, letting the car roll down the driveway off the hose and allowing fear, like water, to flow. Once the flow of fear has begun, that impulse can be transmitted to other regions of the brain that control fearful behavior, such as freezing in place.

  • So how much would it cost to get them to re-direct my fear flow to the calm, deadly badass region of my brain?
    • I find for this this quote from Lawrence of Arabia [imdb.com] to be appropriate:

      Sherif Ali: Have you no fear, English?
      T.E. Lawrence: My fear is my concern.

      Once you decide that you will refuse to allow you opponent to know what you feel inside you're halfway there. Then, work on your thousand yard stare [wikipedia.org] and fringe scanning. This allows you (from your opponents view) to look directly into their eyes, yet what you are really looking at is their shoulders and hips and yet you look completely impassive. I hear it is qui

  • Lack of pain receptors is a big problem for people who suffer from the condition. You can lean on a red-hot iron and not know your flesh is scalding until you smell roast meat.

    This is somewhat analogous to lack of fear. You can find yourself in very dangerous situations and not care. This may have good consequences (overcoming adversity) and bad consequences (reckless behavior, getting yourself killed).

  • In oriental medicine, the fight-flight-freeze response is governed by the "Triple Warmer" or "Triple Heater" meridian (pathway). Triple warmer's [TW] job is to keep a person alive, and whenever the fight-or-flight response gets activated, TW takes energy from all the body's other systems (except Heart), so that the body can fight better or run faster. TW directs the body to release a surge of adrenaline, concentrates blood at the reptilian brain [wikipedia.org] around the brainstem (forebrain/higher thought processes aren'

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Good guess, some of it. But there's not much science and a good deal of mysticism in it, so it will be wrong more often than Western medicine, which isn't based on guessing as a rule.

      • by nido (102070)

        Good practitioners are able to get feedback from the body they're working on.

        My high school friend's insurance company has spent well over $100,000 trying to figure out what's wrong with his kid, and they still don't have a diagnosis... All they have are guesses about what what went wrong 2 years ago - they presume it's a denovo genetic mutation, last I heard.

        Furthermore, the new approach is "complementary care", where you take the best of all approaches and combine them. Oriental medicine is much more prev

        • by blair1q (305137)

          Good practitioners are able to get feedback from the body they're working on.

          When they can do X-rays by ESP, that'll be something interesting.

          As for allopathic [wikipedia.org], that term is a buzzword showing the speaker rejects science in favor of obvious fraud [wikipedia.org].

  • "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer. Very digestible for sciency non-scientists.
  • I thought Fear leads to hate, and hate leads to anger, and anger leads to Suffering. or maybe they're right.
  • Amygdala..Amidala? Crap, now I know why I was so scared of Lucas ruining the franchise and the fragile memories of my youth!
  • Imagine that one end of a seesaw is weighted and normally sits on a garden hose, preventing water -- in this analogy, the fear impulse -- from flowing through it. When a signal that triggers a fear response arrives, it presses down on the opposite end of the seesaw, lifting the first end off the hose and allowing fear, like water, to flow.

    I like this analogy. It is a great analogy!

    But do you know what would be better? If it were about cars.

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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