Monday, December 20, 2010

No Fear: That Could Be a Problem

"Woman who cannot feel fear may help in treating PTSD"
Health, BBC News(December 17, 2010)

"A woman who cannot feel afraid because of a missing structure in her brain could help scientists discover treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"Research published in Current Biology showed the woman felt no fear in a variety of scary situations....

"...The woman feels other emotions but said as an adult, she had never felt afraid.

"She is the first known case of someone who is unable to process fear.

"Researchers at the University of Iowa said her inability to feel frightened was because she is missing a structure in her brain called the amygdala...."

"...The woman experienced fear as a child and knows that some situations should be frightening.

"As an adult she has been in various frightening situations, including being threatened with a knife and held at gunpoint.

"These did not make her afraid...."

Lacking an emotional response to horror movies might not seem like such a problem - except maybe from the point of view of a film fan. Not being afraid when there's an objective reason to feel fear might be a problem.

Panic is a notoriously poor emotional state for making rational choices: but fear does seem to be a useful warning flag, letting us know that we'd better start paying close attention.

The Wikipedia article, "Amygdala," has a pretty good description of what that part of the brain does (as far as we know), where it is and how it's shaped.

2 comments:

Brigid said...

It looks nice? "pretty description of what that part of the brain"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Fixed it. Oops.

Actually, the Wikipedia article has - not so much pretty, as sufficiently detailed, yet simple - illustrations of that part of the brain.

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