Learned fear develops after conditioning — as when a person is stung by a wasp and fears the insects afterward. These memories are formed in the amygdala.
“This is the first time it has been shown that the protein called stathmin — the product of the stathmin gene — is linked to fear conditioning pathways,” said Vadim Bolshakov, director of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at Harvard University’s McLean Hospital, who also worked on the study.
Also, the mice showed unusual behavior. Mice instinctively avoid open spaces, but the stathmin-free mice showed no fear and often explored more open areas than normal mice, the researchers found.
So the gene may control both learned and innate fear, the researchers said.
Another fascinating day in science. Amazing. By the time a 30-year-old alive today dies, they may be completely possessed of their mental faculties in their 120s because of such advances. I can’t even begin to predict accurately what the life-span and lifestyle of a baby born today might be. We live in a time when wild speculation is routinely outdone by science.
Now, let me ask a hypothetical that is no longer so hypothetical: Which is more immoral, using embryonic stem cells for research or condition soldiers to be fearless and, therefore, more reckless and likely to be killed in action? Is it ethical for an athlete, say a gymnast or figure skater, to dope themselves to eliminate fear so that they can perform more extreme moves to win a competition?