Columbia Neurologists Discover Neurocircuit of Fear Response
Columbia University researchers have discovered the brain's mechanism for keeping frightening or otherwise emotionally intense stimuli from interfering with normal functioning.
Participants in their study underwent fMRI scanning while they were asked to look at pictures of faces imprinted with the word "happy" or "fear" and describe the faces as happy or fearful. Some of the happy faces were imprinted with "fear" and some of the fearful faces were imprinted with "happy" however, producing "emotional conflict" in subjects.
Scans showed that when the images matched the words imprinted on them, emotions were processed in the amygdala, the area of the brain generally associated with emotions such as fear, as expected. When there was "emotional conflict" however, the amygdala also came into play--but only until another brain area called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, an area involved in logical thought, took over.
"For example, if someone is walking on an empty street at night and hears a loud banging sound in the near distance, the amygdala would immediately light up," explains Joy Hirsch of Columbia University, senior author of the paper presenting the result in the September 21 issue of Neuron.
Read more: FLEETING IMAGES OF FEARFUL FACES REVEAL NEUROCIRCUITRY OF UNCONSCIOUS ANXIETY
Brain Area Foils Fear
Posted In: Cognitive Psychology |
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