Understanding the effect of violent news on our brain

Understanding the effect of violent news on our brain

How do drama news activate our brain?

Like all information, violent news first follows the classic path. When it comes to content seen on television, for example, the thalamus (a nerve center) first transmits the stimulus to the visual cortex, located in the occipital lobe, at the back of the brain. Then the information is broadcast to the emotional circuit, made up of several connected networks. It is received differently depending on the mix of these interconnections.

That’s to say?

Three components come into play. The subjective component (the emotional feeling) allows us to express what we feel at the moment – ​​three types of emotions are triggered: fear, anger and disgust. There is also the physiological component, which results in the activation of the autonomic nervous system – racing heart, stomach churning, etc. Finally, the behavioral component (the body’s reaction): we can find ourselves agitated or frozen.

Since the days of hunter-gatherers, the human brain has been shaped to cope with threat. Why are we so affected by this type of violence?

Once the information is stored in our brain, we often move on. But when he is confronted with intense images in a prolonged and repeated manner, he clings to these data, as if he hoped to regulate emotion in this way. However, it is quite the opposite that happens: the viewer ruminates and can have nightmares. We then observe the beginnings of trauma or acute stress reactions.

In these cases, do you think it is better to cut everything?

Indeed, especially since individuals cannot anticipate this information. No one was able to predict the October 7 massacre. Unfortunately, the brain doesn’t like uncertainty. Usually, he deciphers the world with an optimistic bias, mainly retaining the positive. But faced with these terrible cascading events, the positive can no longer take over. And this is how our anxiety about the future grows.

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