How and Why Humans Experience Fear

Why Humans Experience Fear

How and Why Humans Experience Fear

The neural-behavioral system responsible for fear has evolved to protect animals from threats within their immediate environments, such as predation. In order to have a logical explanation of fear, scientists must first understand the neural signals that generate fear and the objectively observable behavior that precedes it. A new study may shed some light on how and why humans experience fear. In the meantime, the underlying mechanisms determining these behaviors remain elusive.

The brain sends signals to activate different parts of the body to react to the perceived threat. Those signals cause physical effects, such as an increased heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and sweating. The body also produces heat and excretes excess water, which helps keep the body cool. Depending on the type of fear, some people may experience sensations in their legs, stomach, or hands. These reactions are based on memories that have been stored in the brain.

A person’s mind determines whether or not to respond to a threat. A fear response triggers various physiological effects, including an increased heartbeat and blood pressure. Other symptoms include sensations in the hands, legs, and stomach. The brain creates memory-based expectations for these physical responses in an effort to prevent further injury or death. Those symptoms are known as flashbacks. If a person experiences flashbacks, this is a sign of PTSD, a disorder that can affect a person’s functioning.