Are we really afraid of these animals because culture and our environment have taught us to have it? Is it something that is born with us? Perhaps. At least that is the conclusion reached by a team from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, specializing in cognitive and brain sciences, which used the reactions of half-year-old babies to images of spiders and snakes. These were interspersed with other animals, as well as with flowers. And their bodily reactions to what they saw have helped researchers determine that fear is not learned but innate.
During the experiment, the state of dilation of the pupils was studied, which implies that chemicals known as norepinephrine are secreted in the body. All this helped the team to study the levels of body stress: “When we showed them a picture of a spider or a snake instead of a flower or a fish of the same size and color, the babies reacted with the pupils much more dilated. His body reacted with stress to these animals,” says neuroscientist Stefanie Hoehl.
According to the team, the reason that may reside behind this behavior is a human learning that has been acquired over the years and has been passed from parents to children for generations. Somehow, our brain is prepared to be on alert since we are born.