Fear is felt in the heart

According to latest research that has looked at heart beat cycles, when someone is fearful, there is a marked change in their cardiac rhythms.

A leading team of researchers and scientists at Brighton and Sussex Medical School have reported that they have found evidence to suggest that the heart has a direct influence on how the brain responds to a fearful event.

The researchers lead by Sarah Garfinkel examined the effect of a viewing photos of fearful faces on 20 health volunteers, they found that those individual whose hearts contracted in response to the stimulus were significantly more likely to report their subjective experience of the event as fearful.

The results of their research were reported on Monday at the British Neuroscience Association Festival in London.

The researchers reported that they have identified important mechanisms through which the heart communicates with the brain in such a way that means the brain will recognise something as fearful even if the image was only seen for a short moment.

The researchers are now planning on extending their research to explore the therapeutic implications of their findings on individuals suffering from anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder.

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