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This week from HHP: The science of fright

Posted By Anthony Komaroff, M.D. On October 28, 2010 @ 12:43 pm In Anxiety and Depression,Health,Mental Health | Comments Disabled

Crisp autumn weather, flickering jack-o-lanterns, costumed children trick-or-treating—and a good fright or two—make for a great Halloween.

What is it about getting scared by a haunted house, a roller coaster, or a bungee jump that some people find exhilarating and others find downright frightening? It could be how you are wired, writes Dr. Robert Shmerling in a post on why we love to scare ourselves silly on MSN Health and Fitness.

People who enjoy being scared have what researchers call Type T personalities, explains Dr. Shmerling, who is an editor at Harvard Health Publications and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Imaging studies show that thrill seekers’ brains “light up” in different ways than those of people who don’t go looking for thrills, and the output of neurotransmitters also differs. For a detailed description, read Dr. Shmerling’s post, the latest installment in his Quirky Body series.

On a related note, in the current issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Dr. Michael Miller explores how popular video games that serve up menacing zombies, invading aliens, or other violent scenarios affect children and how parents can protect their children from potential harm.

Whether or not you are a Type T, have a fun and safe Halloween. From Harvard, I wish you good health.

Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publications

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