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Thread: Questions about the amygdala (with a shocking ending)

  1. #1 Questions about the amygdala (with a shocking ending) 
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    Disclaimer: English is not my native language so I will have some difficulties expressing what I mean.

    Some time ago, I read an article about a woman whose amygdala on both sides of her brain was damaged due to some disease she had.
    Because of that she was not able to experience fear. She could experience other emotions like sadness or joy, but not fear.

    What the article didn't say was if she could experience emotions that are kind of close to fear. Like excitement. Say you were about to go bungeejumping. You know that you are going to be alright, you are not really afraid, but you do feel something. It's like a weak version of fear. (I don't know if excitement is the right word, but it's the literal translation from the word I'd use in dutch. ) I hope you understand what emotion/feeling I'm talking about.

    I was wondering, could you still experience that emotion when your amygdala is damaged? Or would bungeejumping become just as trivial as jumping from flat-ground?

    And another emotion that I think is closely related to fear is embarrassment. Would you still be able to experience embarrassment when your amygdala is damaged?


    And now for the shocking ending:
    Is it possible with modern technology to shutdown your amygdala without too much risk attached to the operation? Because if the top two questions can be answered with "yes you would be able to experience excitement, but you wouldn't be able to experience embarrassment" then I would seriously consider having my amygdala shutdown.

    I have never ever found that embarrassment has ever helped me become a better person. It is just a pain in the ass, nothing more. And fear has also become quite useless in modern society where we don't have to worry about predators in the jungle anymore. Today fear only inhibits me from doing stuff when my rational mind says "it's going to be fine" and my amygdala screams "Don't do it! YOU WILL DIE!!!".

    article:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoo...ry?id=12404875


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  3. #2  
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    Come on, is there nobody who can and wants to answer these questions?


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  4. #3  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Instead of "shutting down your amygdala," wouldn't it be better to teach yourself to respond to these situations without that fear or embarrassment?

    It seems to me that you're looking to treat the symptoms and not the cause, and that you could use conditioning (training and practice) instead to achieve your goal.

    Also, there would be HUGE detriment to shutting off your amygdala, and you're choosing to focus only on those emotions you are "afraid" of, and ignoring the emotions you enjoy which would also be impacted by such an act.

    Here... Maybe articles such as this will help you? Enjoy.

    http://www.physorg.com/news166161392.html
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ar-what-scares
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Instead of "shutting down your amygdala," wouldn't it be better to teach yourself to respond to these situations without that fear or embarrassment?

    It seems to me that you're looking to treat the symptoms and not the cause, and that you could use conditioning (training and practice) instead to achieve your goal.
    I don't know. I do believe training can reduce the number of situations in which you are afraid or embarrassed but you can never completely eradicate irrational fear and embarrassment through training. However, shutting down the part of your brain in which (irrational) fear exists will eradicate the symptoms.

    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Also, there would be HUGE detriment to shutting off your amygdala, and you're choosing to focus only on those emotions you are "afraid" of, and ignoring the emotions you enjoy which would also be impacted by such an act.
    Are you sure about that? Because again, the woman which was described in the article I spoke off, could still feel joy, happiness, sadness, anger, and so on.
    And besides that, in every article I read about the amygdala it never states that the amygdala also handles other emotions other than fear.

    Btw, this is the article I'm talking about:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoo...ry?id=12404875
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  6. #5  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evert
    Are you sure about that? Because again, the woman which was described in the article I spoke off, could still feel joy, happiness, sadness, anger, and so on.
    And besides that, in every article I read about the amygdala it never states that the amygdala also handles other emotions other than fear.
    The amygdala is a fairly large structure, I'm sure it can be damaged in all sorts of ways that would have subtly differing effects, but so far as I'm aware, the consensus amongst neuroscientists is that it's involved in a wide spectrum of emotions, not just fear. There's a danger in taking single case studies as representative of the average. In biological studies, we consider single human case studies to be amongst the weakest forms of evidence.
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    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
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    you say you would not miss fear or embarresment. embarresment stops you making an idiot of yourself in social situations and fear is necissary. else you could walk up to the edge of a high rise building with high wind and think nothing of it
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
    you say you would not miss fear or embarresment. embarresment stops you making an idiot of yourself in social situations and fear is necissary. else you could walk up to the edge of a high rise building with high wind and think nothing of it
    I disagree. Embarrassment stops me from being me in social situations. Just ask yourself, what are the kind of things you could feel embarrassed about in social situations? If you trip or fall. But you didn't do that on purpose, so embarrassment doesn't make you do it less cause you didn't want to do it in the first place. Next, you could feel embarrassed about the way you look. For instance if you have a different style of clothing (goth for instance), but you shouldn't be judged on that so that's bullshit. If you have a zit, that's embarrassing, but does the embarrassment help you in any way? No it doesn't.
    Some people say embarrassment is so you try to fit in, we are group-animals after all. However, what kind of things that you could be embarrassed about, could be hazardous to the "group-feeling". I know, when you have different values than the rest of the group. But should I feel embarrassed about that so I will hide my different values? No of course not, that bullshit! It's extremely important that we can talk about those things rationally without being embarrassed.

    Please give me 1 example of something you could feel embarrassed about where the embarrassment is actually helping you...


    And about the fear-thing. I understand that if you lose fear you could walk to the edge of a cliff and not feel anything. However, is you have a damaged amygdala then you can still thing rationally. So you can still think: "Keeping the goal in mind that I want to grow old, it would probably not be wise if I went to stand on the edge of that cliff."
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  9. #8  
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
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    Please give me 1 example of something you could feel embarrassed about where the embarrassment is actually helping you...
    how about not getting naked at a party and running up to all ur friends and hugging them. think of borat or bruno, he has NO shame meaning if you were to interview him you would be almost certain to have a VERY uncomfortable time
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  10. #9  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Evert - I think one main issue here is that you fail to acknowledge that our reactions and emotional responses are not isolated or independent events. With them come an enormous number of other physiological activities which do, in fact, assist us... whether it be heightened awareness, increased blood flow, surges of adrenaline, dilated pupils... etc. "Feeling embarrassed" is about much more than a cognitive self-impression, as are the other experiences you reference.
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