Research Reveals New Information about Fear

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In psychology and in general science, the amygdala is considered an especially important structure in the brain. The amygdala is thought to be responsible for the experience of strong negative emotion. Fear, in particular, is thought to be connected to the amygdala.

In some people, the amygdala does not function properly. Studying such people allows psychology experts to examine the role of the brain structure in a number of fear-related reactions.

This is something that can be used to help a wide range of people, but it is especially relevant for people who have anxiety-related illnesses. People with conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and clinically diagnosed phobias could benefit immensely from the study of fear regulation and responses to fear in the body.

The findings of a recent study are described in an article for the New York Times. The study was meant to focus on how scientists could create the emotion of fear in individuals who are thought to be incapable of experiencing it. The participants were a few people who had damage to their amygdala.

The people in the study did not have a fear reaction to traditionally “scary” images and video footage they were shown.

Click the link below to find out how the researchers were able to create fear in these supposedly fearless participants and what the implications are for people with panic disorder.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/health/study-discovers-internal-trigger-for-the-previously-fearless.html?

Photo Credit: LeggNet via Compfight cc

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rhonda C February 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I’ve known a couple of people who seemed incapable of feeling fear and always thought they were either extremely brave or extremely stupid. This new research seems to indicate that there may be an organic basis to the lack of fear which makes me rethink things.

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Rich Presta February 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I think you’d find that there’s a third option too…extremely good at hiding their fear 🙂

Everyone gets fearful and anxious who isn’t psychotic. If you’re not ever anxious, you have a far bigger issue to contend with than someone with an anxiety disorder!

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josjane1406 February 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I agree that some are just really good at hiding it. I have a theory about children who “show no fear”, though. I think those children are often more physically adept than other children, and are therefore in less danger than other children would be while, say, climbing up a bookcase as a toddler. So what looks like fearlessness may just be because of less danger.

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Rich Presta February 24, 2013 at 12:11 am

Interesting theory!

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AnxietyRUs February 23, 2013 at 1:26 am

This is an extremely important study. It’s very interesting to learn that even those who cannot feel fear can have a panic attack if the right stimulus is applied. Now I would like to see the follow up and see if those of us who have panic attacks have a damaged amygdala. I know the only time this is going to happen is when we are dead but I wonder if they are going to continue this study?

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Rich Presta February 24, 2013 at 12:49 am

I’d like to think they would in some manner.

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