This is how fear affects the human body according to science

Barbara de Emmerich, Scientific Lecturer / B.C.E.

Espiciencia Director, Bárbara de Aymerich, explains what it is, what species there are, what our reactions are to it and how it has helped in human evolution over time

Fear will be the protagonist in a few days when thousands of children and adults celebrate Anglo-Saxon Halloween by decorating their homes and dressing up as terrifying characters with only one intention: to be scary.

Espiciencia’s director and science communicator, Bárbara de Aymerich, defines it as the set of sensations and emotions that pass through us when we encounter something that alerts us or that we can’t control.

In the face of this panic, two possibilities open up: confrontation or flight. At that moment when the human body is tense, hair stands on end, we shiver, our stomach fluctuates, our skin becomes pale or red, etc.

All of these reactions are responses our bodies give to these stimuli from the reptilian brain, the most primitive part of this organ, which ensures that we are ready to face either situation.

Hormonal changes lead to dilated pupils, rapid pulse, tunnel vision, hearing loss or sweating, which are other phenomena we experience when we feel fear and have a specific meaning.

Fear as a way to evolve

Although it seems like a painful feeling, a feeling that holds us back more than allows us to move forward, Barbara de Emmerich explains that it is fear that has helped us come to life and evolve to this day.

From the very first steps of man on Earth, these reactions that it evokes in us have helped us adapt to the various complications we have had to face, from wild animals to wildfires.

Some are innate, which is why babies, when they hear loud noises or feel like they are falling, activate the Moro reflex by opening their palms and stretching their limbs to try to mitigate any relapse and continue feeding.

Acquired and produced fears are other types of feeling fear in a rational way that science explains to us, either because of the enjoyment of watching a movie or because of some traumatic event that happened to us.

On the other hand, there are irrational panics such as phobias, which we are born with and affect us without precedent, such as arachnophobia, claustrophobia or claustrophobia.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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