Balancing fear


Scientists at the EARA member, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany, have found how the body, not just the brain, regulates fear (audio story available).


Using mice, the team focused on the insular cortex - a brain region that processes both positive and negative emotions – to understand the body-brain interactions on the regulation of emotion.


In the findings, in Science, they observed a difference in the behaviour of the mice, depending on how naturally fearful they were at the start of the study.


They noticed that highly fearful mice ‘unlearned’ their fear slower compared to animals with normal insular cortex activity, whereas less fearful mice adapted much faster.


"For a long time, neuroscience has ignored the fact that the brain does not work in isolation. The body also plays a crucial role in emotion regulation," says first author of the study, Alexandra Klein.

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