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Pub Science: Survive - Fight or Flight

Pub Science: Survive – Fight or Flight

Show and Tell. Three words that would either make or break your early schooling life.

Suzie’s just finished her talk, it was all about this really cool rock she found on the weekend. But Suzie has finished now, that means you’re next.

You slowly get out of your chair, carry your bag to the front of the class, all eyes on you and as you reach down into your bag you realise your body is doing some pretty weird things; palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…mom’s spaghetti.

If this reminds you of a certain someone, do not fear, up to 75% of people have ‘Glossophobia’, the fear of public speaking. Public speaking may be scary, but why are these specific responses created? We are triggering, what is now elaborately called the  ‘freeze, flight, fight, faint response’.

This response all starts in your head – as you perceive the stimulus as a threat, it causes the release of ACTH (a hormone) from the brain (hypothalamus) which activates your adrenal gland. This bad boy then releases adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that activates your sympathetic response.

We’ve all felt the physical effects of the sympathetic nervous system; increased heart rate, shaking, dry mouth – it happens because your body is preparing for ‘violent muscular action’. Which, previously meant: eat, or be eaten, but these days (thankfully) doesn’t mean the same. Although, if you call your teacher ‘mum’ during your presentation in front of the entire class, you might get chewed out by your mates.

Keen on learning more about this primal response we enact and modern phobias? Check out this research, to learn about why people faint when confronted with needles to draw blood and more.

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