Neuroscience of Horror-Movies and Fear

Toller Artikel auf über die Vorgänge im Gehirn beim Anschauen eines Horrorfilms (was ich seit gestern mittag praktisch ununterbrochen tue, bislang gesehen: The Mummy, The Hand of the Mummy, Dracula, Draculas Daughter, The Invisible Man, The Invisible Returns, The Fog, The Thing, grade läuft Dawn of the Dead) und die Unterschiede zu realen Gefahren: Why we love to scare ourselves; the anatomy of fright.

Spoiler: Horrorfilme trainieren das Gehirn und Splatterheads haben den besseren Sex. I shit you not.

People who control their fear respond more slowly, giving the cerebral cortex time to take in and process more information. If the cerebral cortex realizes that the spider shape is actually a harmless plastic spider, it tells the amygdala and insula that the threat isn’t real and the calming neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is produced. The brain and body stand down, and everything goes back to normal.

But even when the threat isn't real, the threat signal has already gone through the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that communicates with the body's glandular system. This signal tells the adrenal glands to produce the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline stimulates the production of opioids, which dull the response to pain (very useful if you are being chased by a lion) and endorphins, which produce pleasure. […]

According to Goosens, adrenaline also increases visual acuity and other sensory thresholds, making the world a more intense and pleasurable place. It speeds up the metabolism and makes people feel more alive. People who see Freddy Krueger sneaking up on a victim become alert and aroused, but in control of the experience, which is a plus. […]

Those who don’t enjoy scary movies, she hypothesized, may either have a weaker hormonal response that provides less pleasure and doesn’t cancel out the negative images, or a stronger response that pushes everything to the next, very uncomfortable step.

Halloween Special: Why we love to scare ourselves; the anatomy of fright (via Digg)