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Although most of us don’t consider fear to be a pleasant experience, it is actually crucial for our survival, and has been for the millions of years of our species’ evolution.
So evolution has provided us with 2 pathways for processing information that might lead us to experience fear.
The “high” road, leads from the sensory thalamus up into the cortex, where the sensory stiumulus we are evaluating can be thoroughly analyzed. This is a very important step, but it has one significant disadvantage: it is relatively slow. It can takea few seconds to analyze a new sensory stimulus.
So evolution has seen fit to provide us with a “low” road. A pathway that leads from the sensory thalamus directly to the amygdala. This pathway provides no opportunity for advanced analysis of the stimulus, but it does one very important thing: within milliseconds, it fires of neurons in the amgdala which in turn trigger our body’s emergency response systems.