about the episode
The researchers were curious about what happens in the brain when we look away from something scary. To find out, they conducted an experiment on fruit flies.
Why do we cover our eyes in one scene in a horror movie? Or do we look away when someone else does something scary? This response, of course, varies from person to person, but it may be driven by the same mechanism.
Now you can’t look at a lot of things in human brains – especially from an ethical standpoint – that you can do in fruit flies. First, they looked at what was happening in the brain of fruit flies that were already terrified when they encountered something spider-like in their path. Flies in this case quickly move away. Fruit flies that weren’t on high alert didn’t.
When they then looked at this reaction in the brain, they saw that a group of about 20 to 30 neurons fired waves of the chemical tachikinin. If they genetically modified the frightened flies in such a way that this mechanism was disrupted, they would not get away from the spider. This suggests that this group of neurons is essential for the aversion response.
Why do you want to know more about this? Ultimately, the researchers hope their experiments will contribute to a better understanding of anxiety disorders and phobias and to better treatments.
More research will be needed for this.
Read more here: Fear is in the eye of the beholder.