New Research says that Brain is “Divided” on Fear and Panic


The article above is about how scientists have discovered how the amygdala, a finger nail sized part of the brain, is no longer believed to solely house our fear and panic response in humans.  This new claim came from a research team based at the University of Iowa who spent years working with patients who have severe damage to their amygdala region.  Called Urbach-Wiethe disease, this condition basically makes the patient immune to an outside stimulated fear response or panic attack.  In the article the researchers tested a control group’s fear response by showing the participants frighting images, movies, and even having them be held up at knife point.  Then the participants who had Urbach-Wiethe disease went through the same trials while the researchers were monitoring their brain activity.  The results where that of what they expected, the participants who had the disease did not respond as the participants who don’t have it.  Confirming original beliefs, the researchers went a step further by seeing if a panic or fear response could be educed in these participants.  They did this by having them breathe in a combination of oxygen and carbon-dioxide.  This concoction makes it so that you feel like you are suffocating.  Once the participants breathed in the gas, a surprising thing happened… all of the participants had a panic attack.  After analyzing the data collected and brain scans, the researchers were astounded to discover that the amygdala is not the only place in the brain where a panic response can be triggered.  “In a paper published online Feb. 3 in the journal Nature Neuroscience , the UI team provides proof that the amygdala is not the only gatekeeper of fear in the human mind. Other regions— such as the brainstem, diencephalon , or insular cortex—could sense the body’s most primal inner signals of danger when basic survival is threatened.” (Riehl)


This image is of the Participant whose amygdala's were damaged


-What does this research mean for the future of Human fear and panic response?

-How can we train our brains to not respond in fearful situations as our ancestors have done for so long?

-Does this new information about fear and panic response bring up new questions as to how we should or shoulden’t make soldiers who are virtually fearless?


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