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Psychologists slam TV program: Association of brain’s amygdala and fear has gone to far

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In “The Amygdala And Fear Are Not The Same Thing” ( Association for Psychological Science, January 26, 2012), we learn,

In a 2007 episode of the television show Boston Legal, a character claimed to have figured out that a cop was racist because his amygdala activated – displaying fear, when they showed him pictures of black people. This link between the amygdala and fear – especially a fear of others unlike us, has gone too far, not only in pop culture, but also in psychological science, say the authors of a new paper which will be published in the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Indeed, many experiments have found that the amygdala is active when people are afraid. But it also activates at other times, for example in response to pleasant photographs and happy faces.

The misconception came from how scientists first approached studying the brain. A lot of people came to the amygdala from the study of fear, says Wil Cunningham of Ohio State University, who co wrote the new paper with Tobias Brosch of New York University. “It’s a great emotion to study because it’s very important, evolutionarily, and we know a lot about fear in animals,” Cunningham says. Almost every study of fear finds that the amygdala is active. But that doesn’t mean every spark of activity in the amygdala means the person is afraid.

Mind you, once clear heads get started on TV, there won’t be anything but the live sports left. Hard to fake some of that.

Popular culture idea of amygdala:

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allan at Brains on Purpose

3 Replies to “Psychologists slam TV program: Association of brain’s amygdala and fear has gone to far

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    The thing to fear is why Hollywood keeps accusing white people of being this racist thing!
    It seems they fear white(gentile) men!

    Its tv shows like these, and movies of late winning awards, that are more likely the origins of continuing suspicions/fears in relationships beyween countrymen.

    It seems the BRAINS who control the media/hollywood are a fair target fdor having secret motivations or fears about mankind.!!

    It seems the historical complaint about those in power being the dumb or bad guys has to once again brought up.
    Perhaps it is power that should be feared when its in the wrong hands!

    Is the media/Hollywood a trusted source for important ideas and conclusions?

  2. 2
    ScottAndrews2 says:

    Considering all the awful stuff that Hollywood has pushed, I think that pushing racial integration may have been one of their few useful public services. (That is, when they’re not exploiting stereotypes and insulting some demographics by targeting them with garbage.)
    For years Hollywood has taught kids to smoke, do drugs, have lots of sex, solve problems with violence that never has consequences, and rebel against their stupid parents.

    Although clumsily and with plenty of missteps, they’ve mostly stayed on the “racism is bad” message. That’s hardly an endorsement, but it’s maybe one small good thing that some kids don’t or didn’t get from their parents.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    I don’t agree at all.
    They have not fought against “racism’ but rather they have accused white Protestant and now white Catholic men of being racists, anti-semtic, sexist and homophobic and generally morally and intellectually inferior people who need to be put in their place.
    Hollywood is very liberal Jewish and generally ethnic and leftwing and all ideas flow these sources. They vote greatly democratic even when Deomocrats have crushing defeats.
    Hollywood is not opposed to racism and sexism but rather it accuses particular identities of being racist and sexist and anti-semitic in the guise of justice and equity.
    They do not see ethnic or women as racist or sexist against others.
    Hollywood is just the democratic party and liberal establishment who party harder.

    They accuse and find guilty without fair trial and to the benefit of themselves.
    They are the bad guys and have no right to judge better people themselves.

    By the way they do forbid smoking and present a society where no one smokes unrelated once again to reality.
    Not much drugs and sex is more conservative then it was.
    Hollywood is not middle class Yankee or Southerners voting republicans being virgins on your wedding night

    Hollywood historically and today has been a enemy of of true America and simply however must control themselves to a common mean of America.
    A famous Jewish conservative wrote a book called Hollywoods war against America.
    I didn’t read as I know this stuff already from here in Canada.
    It is a true war and not just Hollywood but really a bigger war from bigger agendas.
    Hollywood is just a example of it.,
    Origin subjects also are.
    America must once again realize there is a problem in her bosum.

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