Wednesday, February 23, 2011

307: The Brain and Fear

Emotions and feelings are biological mechanisms, which are the true guides of our doings. Millions of years our ancestors feared predators, were jealous when someone else approached their partner, were overwhelmed when holding a baby.

Emotions that have repeated themselves millions of times through history, imprinted behavior patterns in the brain. And here comes the specialty of the human brain.

The very moment something unusual happens, something out of the ordinary, the old biological mechanisms have no answer.

At such moments the ratio is activated and begins to analyze, evaluate and searching for a solution of the new and unfamiliar situation. We behave intelligent, which means we are able to solve problems.

Through history our ability to solve problems in many areas has increased: our knowledge of our environment, our insights in social behavior, our capacity to come up with technical solutions, our ability to use language for communication.

In spite of al this emotions and feelings are still important instruments for human beings to make life possible. A simple example….. You encounter a snake on your path.

You could start an extensive rational process of analyzing the situation: what snake is it, dangerous? Can I run or is it faster than me and so on.

But what really happens is that you stop immediately and move away, even before you know what kind of snake it is. The presence of the snake is enough to set you in motion.

This way of behavior has proven to more profitable for survival than other approaches of the situation. The behavioral system which is involved here is FEAR, probably the oldest emotion and stronger than our acclaimed ratio.

Darwin published in 1872 "The expression of the emotions in man and animal". It took almost a century before scientists paid attention to this publication.

For a long time the scientific community wasn't that happy with emotions and feelings. They were the core business of artists and poets. It is hardly possible to quantify emotions and feelings, so you can't measure them properly. And besides that…the ratio is in much higher esteem.

So, we teach our children to suppress and control their emotion and be reasonable. We learn that in many situations the best face is a pokerface.

Due to the interdisciplinary approach of human behavior by neuroscientists, evolutionary psychologists, biologists, philosophers , antropologists and others emotions no longer are regarded as jammers and obstacles for the ratio, but as an integral part of our being.

We have a number of words which seems to mean more or less the same: emotions, feelings, moods. So we need to find a good definition of emotion.

Especially because my thesis here is, that emotion is biological system, a behavioral system which is the result of a long evolutionary development. In that sense feelings are just a part of an emotion.

An example: Bergie is tired and wants to go home. It is raining. She has two options: the shortcut through the dark alley or the longer road along main street. She wants to go home and chooses for the dark alley……

In the alley all of a sudden she hears footsteps following her. What will happen? The emotion FEAR comes into action (even half a second before she consciously is aware of it), not a rational analysis of the situation.

In Bergie's brain a number of programs come into action teamwise. Sensory input is enhanced… a sharper ear for the footsteps. Motivations change: keeping hairdo intact isn't important anymore….personal safety is.

To achieve this new information is gathered, not where the pools are, but where can I hide, where are obstacles in her path. Suddenly the waste container isn't evaluated anymore as a dirty object, but as a place to hide behind.

Memory is activated…. did she see somebody when she entered the alley. Did her friends warn her for a rapist? The communication system is fired….should she cry for help? The expression on her face is already one of fear.

Emotions show themselves by feelings, in this case fear, but the emotion is much more than just that feeling. Thence, an emotion is a driving force which as an orchestra conductor ensures that a number of specific behavioral systems run in parallel and work together to solve an acute problem.

The emotion pushes all actions of the person in fear into one direction. And it is through evolution that we have developed this system of emotions, which ensures our survival and ability to live as a social being.

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:24] Qwark Allen: 1 feeling can do several different emotions at same time
[13:24] herman Bergson: As you may have noticed....
[13:25] herman Bergson: my main goal is to describe the human being as a product of evolution
[13:25] Mick Nerido: Emotions spring from what part of our brain?
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:25] itsme Frederix: hmm as a product of evolved mechanism
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Mick....
[13:26] Mick Nerido: All parts?
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: so emotion is the mechanism itself had feeling is how we well feel it when the emotion kicks in
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes a number of areas in the brain are activated
[13:26] Qwark Allen: there are parts of the brain responsable for that
[13:27] herman Bergson: Exactly Bejiita....
[13:27] herman Bergson: But by definition....
[13:27] Qwark Allen: if they are damaged you may not experience emotions
[13:27] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): emotions being automatic, they are our animal selves....rooted in our brain stem
[13:27] herman Bergson: form my point of view emotion is the conductor of the brain orchestra...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle....
[13:27] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I see it the very opposite Herman :)
[13:28] herman Bergson: `the emotion is already triggered before we are consciously aware of it...
[13:28] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): our ratio the conductor
[13:28] Mick Nerido: ratio is rational only?
[13:28] herman Bergson: No Aristotle....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and when we become aware we get the feeling from that emotion ex joy panic and so on
[13:29] itsme Frederix: Herman, but who is the composer - environment?
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Perhaps we have co-conductors?
[13:29] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): emotion is the train, ratio the engineer
[13:29] herman Bergson: The composer is evolution Itsme..the eternal interaction between organism and environment
[13:29] herman Bergson: I do not agree Aristotle....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Ratio is a mechanism that kicks in when we are in a new , unknown situation...
[13:30] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): hmm, which is cart and which is horse
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: A situation we cannot handle by just reacting out of fear or anger or grief etc.
[13:31] itsme Frederix: Herman if ratio kicks in when the situation is new, the next time this rational behavior is programmed and wired as a "emotion"?
[13:31] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): isn't fear, anger, lust etc automatic responses to stimuli?
[13:31] herman Bergson: The basic point here is, that the ratio is overestimated in its role with respect to survival
[13:32] itsme Frederix: I agree
[13:32] herman Bergson: sure Aristotle
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes that is so true]
[13:32] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and rationally we control them?
[13:32] herman Bergson: No...
[13:33] herman Bergson: evolutionary seen...the emotion of fear, the behavioral mechanism to run for danger was developed before the brain part that produces the ratio was in place..
[13:33] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): yes, I agree with that
[13:34] herman Bergson: almost all animals experience fear...and act accordingly.....they don't need a ratio to survive
[13:34] Mick Nerido: So we have an old boss and a new boss
[13:34] herman Bergson: exactly Mick
[13:34] itsme Frederix: on this RET is based as making you aware why you are acting
[13:34] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the aggressive behavior to combat fear is released by our rational thought
[13:35] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): or not
[13:35] herman Bergson: of course the ratio can interfere with any emotion...
[13:35] herman Bergson: That will differ from person to person....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Some people even hardly experience fear....
[13:36] herman Bergson: and become movie stuntmen ^_^
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: or jackass idiots
[13:36] Mick Nerido: lol
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:36] itsme Frederix: all depends on how things are evolved in the brain and DNA has selected it
[13:36] herman Bergson: lol indeed Bejiita
[13:36] Mick Nerido: adreline junkies
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes Itsme
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:37] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): fearless and stupidity sometimes are the same sometimes
[13:37] itsme Frederix: and there is no cause and no goal with evolution it just goes
[13:37] herman Bergson: if stupidity means 'lack of ratio' you are right Aristotle
[13:38] Mick Nerido: ts like Emotions is driving while ratio is in the back seat giving directions
[13:38] herman Bergson: indeed Itsme...I agree with that
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes Aristotle......
[13:39] itsme Frederix: Mick I like that but ... you still postpone a superior ratio!
[13:39] herman Bergson: I agree with Mick.....
[13:39] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and survival or not :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: A lot of what we call consciousness is a talk or justification afterwards...
[13:40] herman Bergson: But we need that
[13:40] itsme Frederix: So the problem Mick is giving us .... are we in a taxi/cap ordering the destination or ...
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Itsme..let me put it in a philsophical way....
[13:41] itsme Frederix: your welcome
[13:42] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): well, my analogy would be emotions are wild broncos, the ratio is the cowboy with spurs on top
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:42] herman Bergson: The greatest mystery ever at this moment is how this 1400cc of grey mass in our skull can produce something what we experience as subjective consciousness..
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hhshahaha
[13:42] Mick Nerido: good Aristotle
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: trying to control it
[13:43] herman Bergson: In some cases that is the picture Aristotle....
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Herman right you are, the other problem is ... is this subjective consiousness in charge or just a farce
[13:43] herman Bergson: But in the described situation of fear for instance it is not.....
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: or a more technically variant
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme....a killing question!!!!!!!
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: emotion is like the fission reaction in a nuclear plant and the control rods are the ratio and left by itself it would runaway causing a meltdown and go out of control
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: lust like if emotion is left out of control
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: just
[13:45] itsme Frederix: You know sometimes you've to put the head under the covers (in the sand) to keep it above the water
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: at least in some way
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:45] Mick Nerido: We all agree more is going on in our minds than we know
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): itsme
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:45] herman Bergson: That is the rational picture Bejiita....
[13:45] herman Bergson: Emotions already took care of our survival before the ratio entered the arena...
[13:46] itsme Frederix: So the question rises Herman, is ratio a separate aspect or just a tricky emotion?
[13:46] herman Bergson: The point is that the ratio comes into play when basic emotional responses to a situation do not lead to a solution....then we have the "think"
[13:46] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): history has proven that we can survive without ratio, do you suppose we can survive without emotion?
[13:47] herman Bergson: No we cant Aristotle...
[13:47] Mick Nerido: not with much fun
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ratio i guess is a controller to throttle emotions sort of
[13:47] itsme Frederix: Ari there is no survival without emotion, you would not have the good feeling of it without emotion
[13:47] herman Bergson: all animals are driven by emotions in the sense as we define it here...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: getting us to think about it logically instead of panicing
[13:48] herman Bergson: animals can have fear, can experience joy and jealousy...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ex that example why some people when they see a mouse jump up on a chair and scream instead of thinking rationally that wait mouses aren't dangerous
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: I think they are cute
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Bej that is woman behavior
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): uh oh
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: as long they don't crawl from a stinky sewer
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): phooey
[13:49] herman Bergson: that sidifficult to determine can be learnt behavior...
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): did Itsme say that?
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is a myth
[13:49] Qwark Allen: heee
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes he did
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): hmmm
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Ari just to get some reaction -
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe well yes mostly featured in cartoons
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: with mouse hunting theme
[13:50] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): and i think animals have some sort of ratio too. look at lab-rats, monkeys, squirrels. most of the time it is to solve the problem of how to get food
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: and often some lazy cat
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hha
[13:50] itsme Frederix: so please forgive me and mark it not said
[13:50] herman Bergson: Well…referring to a stinky sewer is something else....
[13:50] herman Bergson: We'll get to that when we'll discuss the emotion of disgust
[13:50] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: then mice or btw rats are not too nice
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they are not so bad either
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: but by themselves can be ok
[13:51] herman Bergson: Rats can be very kind animals....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I think that rationally we rely on gathered empical data as to how we reacto to certain dangers
[13:52] herman Bergson: I once had a student in my class with her rat crawling all over her....and into her shirt etc. ^_^
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:52] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: they can be cuddly
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Ari, but don't forget that very a-rational projections can be made out of empiracal dat
[13:52] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): rats are a very popular pet in the US now
[13:53] herman Bergson: they wer ein Europe a few years ago
[13:53] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:53] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:53] herman Bergson: The basic idea here is that what we define as emotions here are found inall human beings all over the world...
[13:54] herman Bergson: in that sense we are all alike...
[13:54] herman Bergson: Like all elephants are elephants on all continents we humans are justlike that...
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): but I do not react to rats and snakes the way others might, so I think it is a basic fear that is diluted with personal experience
[13:55] herman Bergson: always have to keep in mind the bell shape curve of statistical distribution....
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): time to go
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thanks herman
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu gemma
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Gemma
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope to be here thursday'
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh dear...lots track of time Gemma ^_^
[13:56] itsme Frederix: Herman, and keep in mind not every thing is bell-shaped (gaussian) there are black swans
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Gemma :-)
[13:56] herman Bergson: Ok Itsme....we'll discuss that later... :-)
[13:56] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:56] Qwark Allen: was very intersting as usual
[13:56] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: and byebye Qwark -)
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: yess
[13:57] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I like Black Swans better
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your was good again...
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ....
[13:57] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Thank you, Professor
[13:57] Qwark Allen: i wonder where evolution is getting us
[13:57] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): ㋡
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): thanks Herman
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:57] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman it was very intersting
[13:57] herman Bergson: yes has no direction tho
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:57] Qwark Allen: see you next class
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:58] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): goodbye everybody
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
[13:58] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Bejiita
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Bejiita
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bye have a nice evening
[13:58] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye class :-)) see you Thursday
[13:58] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): a wonderful lecture Herman
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye bergie, stay out of dark alleys
[13:59] herman Bergson: Thank you Aristotle
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Aristotle :-))
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): good bye all
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye itsyou :-) und alles liebe!
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ≧▽≦ baba ≧▽≦
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: herman:-) wir lesen uns
[14:01] itsme Frederix: bye

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