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Pac-Man teaches fear through electric shocks

As if we needed teaching
Fri Aug 24 2007, 16:27
BOFFINS HAVE recruited the harmless game of Pac-Man in a bid to see how the brain reacts to fear.

Now, we know that Pac-Man is not exactly frightening, but the boffins from have spiced it up a bit by wiring the gamer to the mains.

According to pop science rag, Science the researchers got volunteers to play the game in which they had to move a blue character through a 2D maze while avoiding a red dot "predator". If the predator caught the triangle the player got an electrical shock.

This is clearly not the sort of game that is going to be popular among the console market, but apparently what the boffins noticed was that as the predator got closer, the player got scared. As the level of threat ramped up, players stopped using the front of their brains and instead there was activity in the mid-brain area.

Dr Dean Mobbs told the Beeb that the closer a threat gets, the more impulsive your response will be.

The forebrain is active during periods of anxiety, and helps coordinate escape strategies to avoid the threat, while the midbrain is more you gut level responses.

More here. µ


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