Fear is a feeling which is created by perceived threat or danger that happens in certain organisms. Fear can cause a change in organ functions and metabolism which can ultimately lead to a behavioral changes, like fleeing, freezing or hiding from the perceive threat.
Fear in human beings can happen because of a specific stimulus that is occurring in the present or even from an expectation of a future threat perceived on the person’s life or body. Response to fear from the perception of danger leads to confrontation or escape by avoiding the threat which is also known as fight-or-flight response. Fear in extreme cases can also lead to paralysis. In animals and human beings, fear is a resultant factor that occurs due to the process of cognition and learning. Thus fear can be classified into two types. The first one is a logical fear and the later illogical fear. Illogical fear is also known as phobia.
Psychologists have suggested that fear in one of the few innate emotions found in all human beings. Other innate emotions found in human are anger, anxiety, angst, joy, horror, panic, and sadness. However, there is a difference between fear and anxiety. Although both these emotions are closely related to each other, anxiety often happens as a threat which is perceived to be unavoidable or uncontrollable. The amygdala is the place in our brain, which is associated with fear. The amygdala is located behind our pituitary gland. Amygdala generates the secretion of hormones that influences aggression and fear. Once the stimulation of fear and aggression is generated, amygdala elicit the release of the hormones, which put the person into a state of alertness, which makes the person run, move, take a flight and others.
The fight-or-flight response in human is regulated by our hypothalamus which is a part of our limbic system.It is interesting to learn over here that once the person returns to the safe mode, and there are no signs of potential threat around, the amygdala sends the information which created fear to the mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex), which stores the data for similar future situation. This process of learning by the brain is also known as memory consolidation. Some of the hormones and chemical elements that are secreted because of fear are epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol and calcium.
These hormones and chemicals are responsible for regulating the heart rate, blood flow, dilation of the blood vessels and air passages and others.