Friday, October 5, 2012

The Science of Scare

So, what happens when we get scared?  Let's take an in depth look at the science of scare!

When something scares you it causes your body to pull out a defense mechanism known as the fight or flight response.  I'm sure everyone has heard about it, and we experience it on a day to day basis.
For example: The chick in the video above experienced it when the scary ghost face startled her.  Her body reacted to the stress of being scared in the following ways:

The hypothalamus initiates the response when triggered by a stress causer by activating the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system.  (English please!)

The sympathetic nervous system controls regulations for many organs of the make it even simpler here are some examples:

  • Eyes: Dilation of the pupil
  • Heart: Increases the force and rate of contraction
  • Kidneys: Increases renin production
  • Penis: Promotes ejaculation
Now the adrenal-cortical system:  It's a hormone dumping system that functions in reaction to the bodies needs.  In the case of being frightened - it pumps adrenaline into the system.

So, these two systems work together to cause the following things to happen:

  • Dilated pupils (the better to see you with, my dear)
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure (Gotta have more blood delivery to help in fight or flight)
  • Increased blood glucose (Your body is prepping for exertion)
  • Constriction of blood vessels closer to the skin, which causes the chilly feeling when we get scared.  (I'm attributing this to the whole pumping blood where it needs to go.  Skin becomes a nonessential organ during fight or flight, so the blood that feeds it is shunted (Pushed) elsewhere (Heart and Lungs))
  • The list goes on and on...Think of the last time you were scared.
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