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The Biology of Fear

Adolphs, Ralph (2013) The Biology of Fear. Current Biology, 23 (2). R79-R93. ISSN 0960-9822. PMCID PMC3595162. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.055.

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Each of us has felt afraid, and we can all recognize fear in many animal species. Yet there is no consensus in the scientific study of fear. Some argue that ‘fear’ is a psychological construct rather than something discoverable through scientific investigation. Others argue that the term ‘fear’ cannot properly be applied to animals because we cannot know whether they feel afraid. Studies in rodents show that there are highly specific brain circuits for fear, whereas findings from human neuroimaging seem to make the opposite claim. Here, I review the field and urge three approaches that could reconcile the debates. For one, we need a broadly comparative approach that would identify core components of fear conserved across phylogeny. This also pushes us towards the second point of emphasis: an ecological theory of fear that is essentially functional. Finally, we should aim even to incorporate the conscious experience of being afraid, reinvigorating the study of feelings across species.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. I thank Michael Davis, Dean Mobbs, Adam Anderson, Lisa Barrett, Jaak Panksepp and Shuo Wang for providing many helpful comments and no consensus, and David Alf and Catherine Holcomb for editorial assistance. I am especially indebted to David Anderson for comments and discussions that have considerably shaped the conceptual aspects of this review. Supported in part by grants from NIMH.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
PubMed Central ID:PMC3595162
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130131-105339980
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Official Citation:Ralph Adolphs, The Biology of Fear, Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 2, 21 January 2013, Pages R79-R93, ISSN 0960-9822, 10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.055.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36710
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Feb 2013 19:45
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:24

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