After Hours

Studying fear with video games


Studying fear with the aid of a video game is what Dean Mobbs, a PhD candidate in University College London's imaging neuroscience department, and his colleagues have reported in Science.

Here's a quote from Scientific American:

Mobbs and his colleagues report in Science that they devised a video game that required 14 subjects to move game pieces along a virtual grid to avoid a virtual predator. To increase the fear factor, players snagged by predators could receive a series of three slight electric shocks, a slight shock or no punishment at all.

Using MRI scans to track the flow of blood in the brain of the participants, the scientists were able to track regions that were more active when "fear" was a factor -- and the end results are quite interesting. In times of anxiety, the fore-brain is more active in terms of devising strategies to avoid the threat. But as the threat closes in (in this case, the "predator" dots), the mid-brain kicks into action bringing in a more impulsive response.

Why a discussion on fear?

This is the time of virtual or pseudo-virtual worlds. We can practically live a day (or many) being "socially" active without seeing a human's face. In the previous study, scientists had concluded that the prefrontal cortex is much larger in modern humans (BBC) than in our ancestors.

Does that mean that a world with minimal fear can result in a much more intelligent species? It would be interesting to know how the virtual worlds are impacting the human evolution as a whole.

5 comments
Oz_Media
Oz_Media

A couple of posts just trounced on a seemingly good discussion to be. As for "We can practically live a day (or many) being ?socially? active without seeing a human?s face." I couldn't. Unless I am playing 'get away' in the mountains, then I've gone more than a month without seeing people, OH THE TRANQUILITY of not seeing or talking to people for a while!!! No phones, no TV, just a few flats of beer and some tree roots to trip over at night.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Years ago I studied similar effects regarding people seeing one angry but familiar face vs a dozen unknown. Results showed that people from smaller towns were more annoyed by a single angry face of someone thy knew to a dozen from those they didn't know. However, they exhibited more fear when they saw a dozen unemotional faces than merely one. People seemed more effected by someone they knew and or cared about being upset, than a mob of faceless people. Those same subjects did have greater fear of being near multiple people without direct expression than an unknown individual of the same expression though. It illustrated mental comfort zones ideally. I see the relation to the enlarged frontal cortex of course. But what is all this about our ancestors not having a large frontal cortex? Adam and Eve looked just like you and I, didn't they? LOL :D

lyrics_ru
lyrics_ru

Edited Message was edited by: beth.blakely@...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

What could you have possibly said to have someone as accepting and open minded as Anne remove your post!?

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