Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finding Clues in the Fearful Brain

Much of what we know about fear in the brain has come from studies that utilize Pavlovian conditioning. When a stimulus, like an auditory tone, occurs at the same time as a painful or otherwise aversive event, the tone comes to be associated with the pain and thereby acquires the capacity to trigger a protective fear (defense) response on its own. The association is formed in a small and very specific part of the amygdala by neurons there that receive sensory information simultaneously about the tone and the pain. This neural meshing triggers chemical processes in the amygdala cells that allow the tone to later activate the cells and trigger the defense responses singlehandedly. more

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