People are motivated to remember fearful events, because this information is useful for daily survival. Yet over-interpretation of fear may lead to anxiety and other mental disorders, researchers said. As part of the investigation, nine daring participants were shown a series of unsettling scenes from horror movies, while deep brain electrodes were used to record their neural activity in the amygdala and hippocampus, the parts of the brain crucial for emotion and memory.
“Using this method, we can actually look at how the brain processes information millisecond by millisecond,” Jack Lin, Professor of Clinical Neurology, told Digital Trends. “What we found is that when someone sees a fearful image, the amygdala extracts the salience of that information to work out how important it is to that person’s daily survival. Then it sends that message to the hippocampus to make sure that it pays attention. This modulation only occurs when a person sees a fearful image.