The next talk in the School of Psychology Seminar Series will be held Friday the 10th of September at 3pm, room 302 of the McElwain Building. Dr Jaime Vila, a collaborator of Ottmar Lipp, will tell us about stress and fear.
Dr Jaime Vila
University of Granada
New Trends in the psychophysiology of fear and stress:
The role of defensive reactions
The concept of defense - like the concepts of fear and stress- is linked to the idea that organisms react physiologically to the presence of danger or threat. This reactivity has a protective function providing the logistical and instrumental basis for adaptive behaviors, such as fight or flight, but under certain circumstances it may become a health risk. In this seminar I will present recent research on two protective reflexes in humans: cardiac defense and motor startle. The physiological and psychological mechanisms underlying these reflexes will be analyzed looking at the presence of both emotional and attentional modulatory factors. Using the picture viewing paradigm and memory or visual search tasks it will be shown that cardiac defense to intense auditory stimulation is characterized by a complex heart rate response pattern with both accelerative and decelerative components, mediated by sympathetic and parasympathetic influences, and with both attentional and emotional significance. This response pattern also shows important individual differences relevant for understanding physiological and psychological risk factors. The implications of this research for a theoretical clarification of closely related concepts - fear, anxiety, and stress- and their underlying psychological processes - emotion, motivation, and cognition- will be discussed.