WHICH FEARS ARE INSTINCTUAL,
and Which Are Learned?
4 WAYS From the moment you wake up in the morning, it feels like a dense fog fills your head. When you drag yourself out of bed and go to make yourself a plate of eggs and toast, it suddenly seems like a much more complicated task than before. You lose track of time, and the smell of smoke enters your nostrils. Frantically turning the burner off, it occurs to you that you can’t remember the day of the week. According to Time Magazine, 47 million people around the world live with some type of dementia. Typically, as we age, we’re told that all we can do is hope for the best and bide our time until there’s a cure, but recent research by the Alzheimer’s Research Center paints a different picture. A set of simple lifestyle changes may be the key to staving off cognitive decline as we get older. REGULAR EXERCISE has been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent, according to Help Guide, and it can even slow the onset of already-present cognitive decline. Walk or swim for about 150 minutes each week, along with two to three sessions of moderate resistance training, as well Where does fear come from? As the jack-o’-lanterns show their grinning, glowing faces and skeletons, cobwebs, and gravestones adorn yards around the neighborhood, it’s a question hanging in many of our minds. When you recoil from the giant mechanical spider suspended above your neighbor’s garage, is that fear instinctual, or is it learned? Many people, spurred on by evolutionary psychology, believe that the fear of creepy crawlies, particularly spiders and snakes, is innate. Certainly, spiders and snakes are among the most common phobias in the world. But research shows that, though humans and apes may be predisposed to easily develop a fear of these poisonous animals, the fears are just that — learned. In a 2016 study, babies were presented with videos of snakes and other animals like elephants, paired with either a fearful or happy auditory track, measuring the babies’ physiological responses when the videos were interrupted by a startling flash of light. Though babies were more interested in the snakes, they weren’t more startled, indicating a lack of fear.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, there are only two fears we inherit at birth: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. A 1960 study, conducted by psychologists Gibson and Walk for Cornell University, sought to investigate depth perception in human and animal species. They suspended a sheet of transparent plexiglass about four feet off the ground and covered one half of it with a checkerboard-pattern cloth, creating a simulated cliff. Infants, both human and animal, were then encouraged by their caregivers, usually their mothers, to crawl off the “cliff” onto the clear half of the platform. Animals and humans alike avoided stepping over what they perceived as a sharp drop, and pre-crawling-age infants showed heightened cardiac distress on the “suspended” side. Coupled with this innate fear of plummeting to the ground is something called the Moro reflex, one of several involuntary reflexes healthy newborn infants have at birth. Often called the “startle reflex,” it occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound
You May Be Able to Prevent Dementia Before It Starts
as balance and coordination exercises. Check out eldergym.com for more info on staying active as you age. HEART-HEALTHY EATING may also protect the brain. Limit your intake of sugar and saturated fats and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Replace butter and margarine with olive or canola oil. Two diets that have been linked to heart health are the DASH diet (dashdiet.org) and the Mediterranean diet. FREQUENT SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT may help keep your brain sharp. Make efforts to speak face to face with someone you’re close to as often as you can. Try to make new friends, volunteer, join a club or social group, get to know your neighbors, or connect with people over social media. MENTAL STIMULATION may also be important to brain health as we age. Study something new to you, such as a foreign language or a musical instrument. Make reading books and newspapers part of your regular routine. Try doing crossword or sudoku puzzles. It’s not difficult to find an activity you enjoy that will also help keep your brain active.
2 • Matson & Cuprill is an Ohio Registered Investment Advisor
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