Comment of the Day: Science of Fear Edition

In today's comments we speculated on which of our favorite on-screen characters were just one step away from a pink slip, chose the super powers we would most like to have in our arsenal of fun, and (just in time for Halloween!) unlocked some secrets of what the brain does with fear.

Today, Joy Hirsch, a Neurobiologist from Yale and one of the early developers of the fMRI technology, joined us to answer our questions about how fear acts on our brains. Commenter RegularSyzedMike wondered about the thrill of fear (the one that makes people watch scary movies, read frightening books, and visit haunted houses) and Hirsch shared an interesting hypothesis about the tangled relationship in the brain between fear and rewards:

This is a really interesting question. Some individuals are thrill and risk seekers, but the neural correlates of that trait are not known. One hypothesis is that regions of the brain that are sensitive to fear also signal reward as well. The combination would predict fear-seeking behaviors. This is just a hypothesis. I do not know of any evidence for it.

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