‘Fear’ is used scientifically in two ways, which causes confusion: it refers to conscious feelings and to behavioral and physiological responses...As long as the term ‘fear’ is used interchangeably to describe both feelings and brain/bodily responses elicited by threats, confusion will continue. Restricting the scientific use of the term ‘fear’ to its common meaning and using the less-loaded term, ‘threat-elicited defense responses’, for the brain/body responses yields a language that more accurately reflects the way the brain evolved and works, and allows the exploration of processes in animal brains that are relevant to human behavior and psychiatric disorders without assuming that the complex constellation of states that humans refer to by the term fear are also consciously experienced by other animals. This is not a denial of animal consciousness, but a call for researchers not to invoke animal consciousness to explain things that do not involve consciousness in humans.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The slippery slope of fear
LeDoux makes some useful comments on confusion one encounters in studies of fear, especially involving the amygdala, a clip: