‘Bravery cells’: Courage, risky behavior, stress linked to hippocampus

brain crop

According to new research, your reaction may have less to do with logically analyzing the situation and more to do with how so-called “bravery cells” in your brain light up in response to [threats]. Our brains have been primed from the early stages of evolution to respond to risk in order to keep us safe, but not all risky scenarios are as severe as a hungry wolf in the woods—and sometimes our minds flood us with apprehension when there is no risk at all.

Scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden and Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil have pinpointed one thread of the cognitive web that controls anxiety: oriens lacunosum-moleculare interneurons, or OLM cells. These brain cells activate to let us know we are safe in risky situations, and they might provide a new method to counter the debilitating effects of anxiety disorders.

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In the ever-chugging cognitive engine of the brain, well-oiled OLM cells are able to determine when it’s safe to trudge through the dangerous and the unfamiliar. But even if our brains follow the same basic blueprints, every brain behaves a bit differently. When OLM cells misfire, our brains can panic, even when the perceived threat is completely surmountable. By identifying the role of each cellular cog in the machine, scientists might be able to address these glitches and help our brains run a little smoother.

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Read full, original post: The Brain’s “Bravery Cells” Encourage Risky Behavior

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