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Science
FRONTIERS
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Wednesday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
radioscience@bbc.co.uk
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Listen to 22 May
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PETER EVANS
Peter Evans
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Wednesday 22 May 2002
Fear

Fear

In the last few years there has been a revolution in the study of emotions. Fear, anger, love desire, give colouration and meaning to everything in life - and the derangement of emotions is what leads to the profound pain and much of the disability experienced in mental illness.

With the advance in brain imaging techniques, researchers are finally getting to grips with "seeing" our feelings - and in Frontiers, Peter Evans follows the quest to elucidate the most important of emotions, fear. It is vital for our survival in the face of danger but, when not regulated, it can become responsible for anxiety disorders and some of the symptoms of depression.

The emotion of fear relies on pathways that involve a structure deep in our brains called the amygdala. As the circuitry is being worked out, new clues are finally arising as to how we store information for fearful situations, how memory gets enhanced, how we subconsciously take in information about threat and fear - even though we might not be concentrating on it. New evidence also suggests that phobias may be hitchhiking on the same pathways used by normal fear.

As we come close to seeing the brain in the act of storing information about the signal that predicts danger, a new tool opens up in the attempt to study the effects of medication and psychological therapies on a variety of mental illnesses.
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