Phobia & Its Impacts On Human Brain

Education News | Aug-25-2021

Phobia & Its Impacts On Human Brain

Phobias are illogical, especially of specific objects in the environment, usually living beings. Spiders, snakes, birds, clowns, bridges, and blood are all common phobias. Surprisingly, most people do not have a wide range of phobia triggers. A person who has a phobia of spiders, for example, may not have the same reaction to snakes, and a person who has a phobia of clowns may not be afraid of bridges.

Even for those who do not have phobias, phobias are object-specific, and they tend to focus on moderate things, if not profoundly, unpleasant. There are a few odd exceptions, such as some stereotypical phobia triggers that aren't usually regarded as unpleasant. Clown phobia, for example, is fairly widespread, even though clowns are often seen as humorous people. Clowns may look like weird or misshaped persons because of the makeup-induced obscuration of regular facial features, prompting a significant reaction in those who suffer from clown phobias. Birds, too, can provoke a phobia that defies rational explanation in persons who suffer from this phobia.

Functional imaging investigations have discovered that phobias are linked to significant changes in brain activity. When exposed to phobia-inducing stimuli, people with phobias have been demonstrated to have higher amygdala activity, as seen on functional MRI. The amygdala has long been linked to emotional responses. One finding is that the right amygdala is more reactive to negative emotions, such as those associated with phobias, whereas the left amygdala is more firmly associated with positive emotional reactions. Surprisingly, one study found that the higher the right amygdala's activation, the greater the perception of danger.

The stria terminalis, anterior cingulate cortex, and insula were found to be hyperactivated in people who were exposed to phobia-inducing images for an extended period in an experimental environment. This implies that, contrary to popular belief, extended exposure to phobia-inducing stimuli does not necessarily 'calm down' brain activity, but rather involves additional brain areas.

By: Samaira Sachdeva
Delhi Public School, Gautam Buddh Nagar

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