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Super Awesome Science Show: The Science of Fear

In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 photo, Laura Law performs as a witch at the Scary Tales haunted house at Halloween Horror nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.
In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 photo, Laura Law performs as a witch at the Scary Tales haunted house at Halloween Horror nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

We all experience fear, but few of us understand it.

It usually happens when we feel unsafe or threatened, and it’s both instinctual and learned. And for some, it can take over their lives, while for others, it can be a source for excitement.

On this week’s Super Awesome Science Show, we’re going to take a closer look at fear and why it’s such a strange, fascinating aspect of our existence.

Our first guests are studying how fear exists in the brain andthe way it impacts our lives. Jacob Raber is a professor of behavioural neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, while Sydney Weber Boutros is earning her doctorate in this field. They’re taking the lead on a worldwide project known as Neuroqualia, which seeks to understand how our emotions affect us.

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MacEwan University psychology professors research impact of sound on people’s fear
MacEwan University psychology professors research impact of sound on people’s fear

We learn of the nature of fear from a biological perspective and the process of experiencing fear is far more complicated than you might think. It’s not simply a matter of being scared, it’s how we interpret the situation and respond based on our pasts. We explore the concept of fear memory and one of the most troubling consequences, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

We also find out how we may be able to do away with certain fears by keeping our bodies and our minds in a safe place.

READ MORE: Coulrophobia: The fear of clowns

Our next guest explores one of the side effects of fear — seeing things that don’t exist, which is scientifically called false agency detection. His name is Adam Tratner and he’s a doctoral student at Oakland University. His research focuses on finding out what situations can lead to this phenomenon and whether it is fear rather than belief that causes us to experience the supernatural and paranormal.

READ MORE: If you’re afraid of spiders or snakes, this new study may help explain why

In our SASS Class, we take a different look at fear — as entertainment. Our guest teacher is Glenn Sparks, a professor of communication at Purdue University. He’s explored why some people tend to love horror films and other fear-inducing violence and mayhem. We discuss what gives people that urge to venture into a theatre and get scared out of their minds.

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The answer? It happens to be less about the fear and more about the joy that comes with being safe.

If you enjoy The Super Awesome Science Show, please take a minute to rate it on Apple Podcasts and be sure to tell a friend about the show.

Contact:

Twitter: @JATetro
Email: thegermguy@gmail.com

Guests:

Jacob Raber
Web: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/jacob-raber/831E0CC1C990434DA01DB6D91753AD75

Sydney Weber Boutros
Web: https://www.ohsu.edu/school-of-medicine/behavioral-neuroscience/sydney-weber-boutros
Twitter: @SydWeberBoutros

Adam Tratner
Web: https://adamtratner.com/

Glenn Sparks
Web: https://cla.purdue.edu/directory/profiles/glenn-sparks.html
Twitter: @purduespar

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