Your heart starts racing, palms sweating, your muscles tense and goosebumps arise, there are butterflies in your stomach—you’re experiencing one of the basic human emotions: fear.
Fear is the work of the amygdala, a small part of the brain that can trigger a fight or flight response in less than a second. Some fears are learned and even cultural, while others have no borders, for example a fear of snakes, spiders or heights.
With so many things to be scared of in the world, researchers have long focused on how to stop fear. According to Columbia University professor Carolyn Rodriguez, by facing our fears we can trick our brains into overcoming what scares us. The more you face the fear, the more you trick your brain into releasing opioid chemicals that actually produce a feeling of comfort.
UPR reporters Elaine Taylor and Taylor Halversen set out to see if they could overcome their fears by facing them directly.