Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Mechanics of Fear of the Unknown

From "Overcoming my Obstinance" by Joshua Freedman, 6 seconds

Good stuff

Zooming into the neurobiology, in a sense we have a tug-of-war between the striatum and the amygdala, between opportunity and risk. The striatum is part of the basal ganglia, a “bump” at the lower-back of the brain implicated in many aspects of decision-making as well as balance and navigation. Interestingly, this center seems to manage balance both in terms of physical motion and in terms of wisdom. The striatum, specifically, is tied to reward, novelty, and forward planning. When we’re looking ahead, anticipating with pleasure, and innovating the striatum is active.

However, when we’re anxious or uncertain, activity here decreases. For example, a team of neuroeconomists at Caltech ran an experiment with decision-making; as uncertainty increased, fear centers in the brain became more active while there was decreased activities in the striatum (Ming Hsu et al 2005).

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