Is It Good For You
There may be more reasons for enjoying a good scare. Studies have pinpointed the potential psychological and health benefits of fear.
While long-term fear has adverse effects, such as increased blood pressure and defensive behavior, short-term fear can have psychological benefits. It can allow a person to practice controlling their bodys response to fear in a safe space.
From a psychological perspective, can show the person they are capable of surviving and can regulate their emotions and can respond appropriately for self-protection.
Dr. Mayra Mendez
That scary movie might even have physical benefits. A 2009 study showed that fear can boost the immune system. Researchers got a group of volunteers to watch a horror movie then measured their leukocyte count.
When the researchers compared them with a control group who had spent the same time sitting quietly in a room, they found that those who watched the horror movie had significantly higher numbers of white blood cells responsible for immunity than those who had not.
And it might be useful in the current pandemic. A recent study found those who regularly enjoy horror movies to be more psychologically resilient during COVID-19. So scary experiences may help you practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.
Fear-generating entertainment is a soundbox for playing with those human emotions you dont often test.
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Can You Tell Me A Bit About Your Research On Fear Mechanisms
We are focused on two questions here. The first is: How does the brain store memories of fearful events, and what brain areas are important for that function? We know that the amygdala is a key player in storing fear memories, which is a part of the brain in the temporal lobe that deals with emotions.
The other question we are interested in is: How do you suppress fear memories? Thats the clinically important problem, because when someone goes to a therapist with pathological fear, such as someone with post-traumatic stress disorder , they are looking for a way to suppress or dampen their fear responses. So we are interested in the circuits of the brain that can sort of shut the amygdala down.
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Why Do Fear Systems React The Same Way To Stimulation When Its Not A Real Threat
Fear comes online in the same way when you detect any threat whether its in a movie or a dog is chasing you in your backyard. But when the threat isnt real, you then dampen the active amygdala pretty soon after you know its not a serious threat. The prefrontal cortex then inhibits the amygdala and dampens fear responses, which happens quickly.
If you are uncertain though, the prefrontal cortex wont be engaged. The first process of fear emerging from a threat is fast because its adaptive and important that we respond quickly. The second process with the prefrontal cortex is slower and necessarily cautious, because you want to make sure the threat is not real before you shut everything down. So if the threat is real, those things dont come into play.
What Causes Fear In The Brain
The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This reaction is more pronounced with anger and fear. A threat stimulus, such as the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved in preparation for motor functions involved in fight or flight.
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Whats Important For People To Keep In Mind About Fear
My research focuses on PTSD, where people have an overactive amygdala and a low functioning prefrontal cortex to control the fear. People with PTSD will probably avoid fearful situations that remind them of their trauma. But in a safe therapeutic setting, we allow people to encounter these stimuli where they know it to be safe and controlled in order to extinguish their fears.
Fear is a healthy brain system and is highly adaptive it serves us well and keeps us safe from threats. But it can become pathological with trauma. We are working on solutions to deal with that. We want to better understand the way these prefrontal cortexes can dampen the amygdala and suppress fear in order to improve clinical interventions.
Why We Dont Like Horror Games
After spending so much time talking about why people do enjoy horror games, I think its only fair to discuss why people may hate and stay away from the genre. For this, Ill mainly be using three points.
Firstly, I discussed earlier how people may be thrill-seekers who love a good rush of adrenaline and interpret something shocking as new and exciting. However, those who spread awareness of thrill-seekers also talk about their counterparts the thrill-avoiders . Thrill-avoiders are theoretically people who perceive horror as noisy and unpleasant rather than something exciting. The idea of being scared and unsettled couldnt be more unappealing to them, they just want to chill and feel calm. They may also have an overriding concern about the harm that is befalling the characters, reducing their enjoyment of the experience .
This is where the point about realism comes in. Despite being raised on horror games, I peaced out of my first horror game in 2020. I have one particularly bad phobia that video games have certainly portrayed before, but they have done so in a cartoonish manner using canned sound effects that my brain has gotten used to. This particular game studio prides itself on realism, and they created the most realistic portrayal of my phobia with the most grotesque sound effects that Ive seen in my entire life.
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How Do We Experience Fear
Fear reaction starts in the brain and spreads through the body to make adjustments for the best defense, or flight reaction. The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This almond-shaped set of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain is dedicated to detecting the emotional salience of the stimuli how much something stands out to us.
For example, the amygdala activates whenever we see a human face with an emotion. This reaction is more pronounced with anger and fear. A threat stimulus, such as the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved in preparation for motor functions involved in fight or flight. It also triggers release of stress hormones and sympathetic nervous system.
This leads to bodily changes that prepare us to be more efficient in a danger: The brain becomes hyperalert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate and breathing accelerates. Heart rate and blood pressure rise. Blood flow and stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase. Organs not vital in survival such as the gastrointestinal system slow down.
A part of the brain called the hippocampus is closely connected with the amygdala. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. They are involved in a higher-level processing of context, which helps a person know whether a perceived threat is real.
Why Do We Enjoy Fear
Its the end of October, which for many people means haunted houses, horror movies and dressing up in frightful costumes. The College of Liberal Arts sat down with Professor Stephen Maren from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who researches fear and memory, to gain an understanding of how fear works and to ask the question: Why do we find putting ourselves in fearful situations so alluring? This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.
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The Psychology Of Horror Games
With the nights growing longer and the winds howling outside, it can be tempting to draw the curtains and immerse ourselves in the spooky world of horror games. In our play session, we can expect chills, tension, an accelerated heartbeat, even being frozen in fear.
But why? When the world can be such a scary place, why do we voluntarily sign up for an interactive medium designed to frighten us? In this article, I hope to explain several reasons why people like to play games that fill them with tension and fear. However, Id also like to shine some light on why people dont like playing horror games.
As usual, there will be a summary at the bottom if you do not wish to read everything. Now, lets begin!
Personality Plays A Part
Everyone is born with different personalities and temperaments that contribute to their view of fear, says Brownlowe.
There is a temperamental dimension that we call sensation-seeking, whether that is someone who wants to be challenged, or enjoys thrills and finds these types of experiences exciting. On the other end of the spectrum are people who are averse to those experiences and may be more sensitive, more shy, and more fearful, said Brownlowe.
While we may start out life with a certain temperament, life experiences can change our temperament.
If you are a person who has experienced a trauma, thats going to change how you think, Brownlowe said. Maybe you started out temperamentally not nervous but because of life experiences have become more anxious, nervous, and sensitized, so therefore thrill seeking or fearful types of experiences arent going to be as enjoyable for you.
What are personality traits of fear lovers? Kerr says research points to the following:
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Your Body Responds To Fear Differently In A Controlled Environment
Youll often hear people laughing after a big scare because the body releases dopamine when were afraid, a hormone that creates a high state of arousal similar to what we feel when were excited or happy.
You also may find that you eat more when youre scared. According to Dr. Mayer, when the body is afraid, a hormone called cortisol is released, increasing blood sugar and blood pressure. The allostatic load also increases, which is the wear and tear the body experiences when exposed to chronic stress.
The increased allostatic load leads to an increase in consuming fats thus, we tend to crave and eat more popcorn and such at movies and TV watching, Dr Mayer told INSIDER.
How Can Fear Be Both Innate And Learned Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear
Its about triggering a response we have to fear that releases chemicals in our brains. Its about triggering the amazing fight-or-flight response to experience the flood of adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine. Learned fears are a result of socialization. Innate fears are the result of conditioning and treatment.
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Are There Potential Risks To Putting Ourselves In These Situations Are There Any Benefits To It
I dont think theres any real risk or physiological harm. The person who is scared to death is an outlier or very rare case.
The benefits might be that you can explore these potential threats in a safe setting and learn about situations that might arise in real life, even though some are pure fantasy. It might allow you to prepare for that if it happens, or see if your reaction is to freeze, panic, etc.
As A General Overview How Does Fear Work Psychologically
Fear is all about the state in your brain when you detect threat. How you respond behaviorally to that threat is determined by a number of factors, one of the key ones being how close it is. If there is a threat that is really close to you, you might actually try to escape or run away. If the threat has actually made contact with you, you might flail around, scream, or vocalize. Whereas if the threat is distant and you want to avoid detection, you might freeze.
So what we study in the lab, primarily, is freezing behavior, which is a good readout on fear in the animal model that we use. In general, fear is about the emotion that arises when danger is present.
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Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear Claim
One of the main hormones released during scary and thrilling activities is dopamine, and it turns out some individuals may get more of a kick from this dopamine response than others do. Basically, some peoples brains lack what Zald describes as brakes on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain.
What Happens In The Brain When We Feel Fear
And why some of us just cant get enough of it
Arash Javanbakht and Linda Saab, The Conversation
Fear may be as old as life on Earth. It is a fundamental, deeply wired reaction, evolved over the history of biology, to protect organisms against perceived threat to their integrity or existence. Fear may be as simple as a cringe of an antenna in a snail that is touched, or as complex as existential anxiety in a human.
Whether we love or hate to experience fear, its hard to deny that we certainly revere it devoting an entire holiday to the celebration of fear.
Thinking about the circuitry of the brain and human psychology, some of the main chemicals that contribute to the fight or flight response are also involved in other positive emotional states, such as happiness and excitement. So, it makes sense that the high arousal state we experience during a scare may also be experienced in a more positive light. But what makes the difference between getting a rush and feeling completely terrorized?
We are psychiatrists who treat fear and study its neurobiology. Our studies and clinical interactions, as well as those of others, suggest that a major factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context. When our thinking brain gives feedback to our emotional brain and we perceive ourselves as being in a safe space, we can then quickly shift the way we experience that high arousal state, going from one of fear to one of enjoyment or excitement.
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Here’s Why You Could Be Addicted To The Internet
Yet, Kerr points out how fear can be a bonding experience, too. When we go as a group into a haunted house, for example, were taking on these challenges together and in doing so creating stronger bonds, stronger memories and feelings of closeness. If you watch people coming out of a haunted house youll see lots of hugs and high fives, she says, attributing this burst of emotion to raised oxytocin levels.
Theres no escaping fear because its as natural as breathing. But learning more about why we feel it and what our triggers are can only help us figure out how to better face our fears and not let them get the best of us.
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The Enjoyment Of Horror
In the article that I found, Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? by Allegra Ringo, she does a question and answer with Dr. Margee Kerr about what attracts some brains to horror. First they talk about how it is not a choice whether or not someone enjoys fear, it comes from our brain. Dopamine is released in our brains during scary situations and those that enjoy this dopamine experience like being in fear. Another reason she examined was that people are able to enjoy fear when they know they are in safe place. For example, when watching a movie one knows that what they are watching is not actually going to happen to them. They are able to experience the same fear as the people in the movie but do not have to endure the mental or physical pain that those in the movie are undergoing.
Through horror films people are able to experience the unknown. We are curious human beings who often question life and death. Through horror films we are able to get a hypothesis of what may happen after death. The films are able to satisfy a craving for what may happen after one dies. Horror movies also allow us to experience an adrenaline high that we would only want to experience second hand. We get insight into a situation that will never actually happen to us.
Carroll, N. . Why Horror?. In Neill, A. & Riley, A. Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates . New York, NY: Routledge.
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Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear Allegra Ringo Answers
The second article I chose was Why do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? by Allegra Ringo. Kerr relates this attraction to fear as a method of getting a natural high from the fight or flight response. Additionally, Kerr goes on to state that individuals feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from facing fears.
Why Do Some People Enjoy Being Scared
- 2 minute read
There are two kinds of fear: the kind no sane person would pay for and the kind millions of people line up for.
The former comes from actual threats. Imagine someone attacked you on the street or a car almost ran you over. You would experience a rush of adrenaline from the fight or flight response, a sort of high. This feeling is pleasurable for some people, but no one can savor it when they believe their life is in danger.
Then there is the type of fear people pay for: thrills that scare you without presenting any physical threat. Think haunted houses, horror movies, roller coasters and scary video games. These horrors provide a controlled environment where people can enjoy the same rush of adrenaline and high that comes from real threats.
Some people love these thrills while others scoff at the idea of paying good money for something that might give them nightmares for days. Its not only about personality and preference, though. The people who line up to get scared might have different brain chemistry, according to research from Vanderbilt University.
When we experience scary or thrilling situations, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that can act as a reward. Some people get more of a kick from this release than others, sociologist Margee Kerr told The Atlantic. They feel more pleasure because their brain is keeping the chemical around lounger.
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