Fear can be as old as life on Earth. Fear can be as simple as a shudder of an antenna in a snail that’s touched, or as complex as existential nervousness in a human. Whether we love or hate to experience fear, it’s difficult to deny that we definitely revere it devoting an entire vacation to the celebration of fear. Thinking about the circuitry of the brain and human psychology, some of the main chemicals we Contribute to the fight or flight response are also involved with other positive emotional states, like happiness and excitement.
The high arousal state we experience during a scare
Therefore, it is sensible that the high arousal state we experience during a scare can also be experienced in a more positive light. What makes the distinction between getting a rush and feeling completely terrorized? We’re psychiatrists who treat fear and study its neurobiology. Our studies and clinical interactions, and also those of others, suggest that an important factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context. When our thinking brain gives feedback to our emotional brain and we perceive yourself as being in a safe space, we may then rapidly shift the way we experience that high arousal state, going from one of fear to one of enjoyment or excitement.
The fear response begins in the amygdala.
Whenever you enter a haunted house during Halloween season, for instance, anticipating a ghoul jumping out at you and knowing it’s not really a threat, you’re able to rapidly relabel the experience. The fear response begins in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This almond-shaped set of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain is dedicated to detecting the emotional salience of the stimuli how much something stands out to us. For instance, the amygdala activates whenever we see a human face with an emotion. This reaction is more pronounced with anger and fear. A threat stimulus, like the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved with planning for motor functions involved with fight or flight.
The hippocampus is closely connected with the amygdala.
Heart rate and blood pressure level rise. The flow of blood and stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase. Organs not vital in survival like the gastrointestinal system slow down. A part of the brain called the hippocampus is closely connected with the amygdala. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. They’re involved with high-level processing of context, which helps an individual know whether a perceived threat is real. For example, seeing a lion in the wild can trigger a strong fear reaction, but the response to a view of the same lion at a zoo is more of curiosity and thinking that the lion is cute.