Fear, Pain, and Perception

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  • Topic: Perception, Philosophy of perception, Sense
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Fear, Pain and Perception

Sensation and Perception Literature Review
Psychology 325
18 April 2004

Fear and pain constitute two of the most commonly misinterpreted concepts in human perception. When we are in a state of fear can we sense pain more or less acutely? It is commonly believed that amygdalitic coherence channels pain from the so-called 'fear centers' via the relatively well understood epineuronic and pseudoneuronic mechanisms. Yet, there is little understanding of how the sensory homunculus finally integrates both types of information (Irvine 2003; Podgorny & Laslo 1992; Anselmo et al. 1998) especially in light of the supposed modulating capabilities of fear. In this paper we will discuss the various hypothesized mechanisms for the eventual integrations of this information and attempt to reconcile the two positions set forth by Gibson (1952) and Irvine (2003) with respect to both fear and pain.

What are the 'quanta' of pain? More importantly, how are the feelings of 'pain' encoded when we feel the very different sensations of, say, the sting of a bee or the heartburn of indigestion? How does fear enhance or detract from the eventual sensation of pain? Anselmo (1998) posits a quantum mechanism that encodes pain in discrete neural chunks, modulated by the source of the pain and its locus in the body. Pleanty of evidence supports this position, the process being most recently demonstrated by Rosetta (2004) and expanded and enhanced by the fMRI work of Irvine and colleagues (2003). The former investigators began the process of re-introducing fear to the experimental paradigm. Subsequently, Siraigal and colleagues (2004) used functional imaging to investigate the directionality of this fear-pain connection. They found that fear _preceeding_ pain lessens the sensation of the eventua pain event while events in the opposite order (pain followed by fear-inducing stimuli) enhances the pain. (See also Edding and DeSimone, 2004)....
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