18 May '12, 2am

Woman with no fear intrigues scientists

Woman with no fear intrigues scientists

A 44-year-old woman who doesn't experience fear has led researchers to the discovery of where that fright factor lives in the human brain. Researchers tried repeatedly to scare the patient, who they refer to as "SM" in their write-up in the most recent issue of the journal Current Biology. Haunted houses in which monsters tried to evoke an avoidance reaction, instead evoked curiosity; spiders and snakes didn't do the trick; and a battery of scary film clips merely entertained SM. The patient has a rare condition called Urbach–Wiethe disease that has destroyed her amygdala, the almond-shaped structure located deep in the brain. Over the past 50 years, studies have shown the amygdala plays a central role in generating fear responses in various animals from rats to monkeys. The new study involving SM is the first to confirm that region of the brain is also responsible for exp...

Full article: http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/woma...

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