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I’m currently taking an upperdiv class called the Psychobiology of Fear and Anxiety, taught by my PI, and ohmygawd the material is so difficult, but it’s so goooood. The first midterm is on Thursday, and it’s literally taking me 3-4 hours to go through each lecture, and all the while I’m simultaneously tearing my hair out from stress and gaping at all this crazy cool information.
Fear is such an innate, primitive emotion and I admit I never really paid attention to it until I started my research on fear. The professor, Dr. Fanselow, is pretty much known as the guy who discovered the fear circuit in the brain, thus converting learning about fear from a psychological point of view to a biological model.
His research primarily revolves around the amygdala, a brain structure responsible for processing emotional reactions, fear included. You would think that if you removed the amygdala, then fear would be entirely eliminated. Fanselow’s research, however, has shown that the surrounding area in the brain, called the basal nuclei, eventually replaces the function of the amygdala, thus maintaining fear.
My biology classes have always forced the concept of the brain’s plasticity down my throat, but to see it in action is amazing. Discovering how fear works in the brain has a zillion applications, which includes anxiety disorders, a personal interest of mine since I grew up with loved ones suffering from the disorders. While reading this publication, the little nerd in me was pumping her fists in the air, saying “damn that’s so coooooool”
I lovelovelove being psychobiology. Best of both worlds.
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