Scientific proof that the scariest thing imaginable is a tarantula

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Researchers measured how the brain responds to fear, by sticking people inside fMRI machines and pretending to put tarantulas on their feet.

Photograph via theagavin.

The setup involved strapping the subjects into an MRI, where they were shown a video that they believed to be a live feed of a tarantula being placed in boxes near their feet.


What the scientists discovered was that the fear response was not linked to how close the spider was, but its movement towards or away from the subject. By comparing the self-reported level of fear to readings in the fMRI, the researchers are attempting to decipher which parts of the brain handle different fear-related responses.


Research published in PNAS