A Test of Courage

Anne Dillard said "You can't test courage cautiously," but Institute scientists have found a way to test it fairly safely, at least.

One might think of courage as an abstract idea, but it turns out that acts of bravery reveal a unique activity pattern in the brain. An experiment at the Institute to identify the brain mechanisms that take control when the call to action conquers fear involved a live snake on a remote-controlled trolley and volunteers with a fear of snakes in an fMRI.

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I do not know anything about the subject, but if the relevant areas in the brain can be identified, would it not be possible to stimulate them with a weak electric current to help patients overcome -for instance- a socially handicapping phobia?
And once the neurons involved in "courage" get stimulated, will not the neurons progressively get more effective, just like the neurons involved in other often repeated tasks?

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 19 Jul 2010 #permalink

Anyone who quotes Annie is OK by me.

That was a well designed experiment. Congratulations.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 19 Jul 2010 #permalink