Monday, December 20, 2010


The woman, only known as SM (unfortunate initials, yes) in this article has no amygdala in her brain. The amygdala are a set of nuclei in the brain in charge of processing emotional reactions. One of their main functions is to inspire fear, or rather, to point out to other parts of the brain what should be feared, like wolves. When the amygdala is missing, this function is also missing. Thus not having an amygdala results in the inability to feel fear.

Some may view this as a disability, to be sure. The article states:

But while this behavior is relatively benign, the researchers also found that SM put her life at risk. In one instance, she walked through a park alone at night and was attacked by a man with a knife.
“The following day, she again walked through the same park,” Mr. Feinstein said.
In the same way, one might not be afraid of burns, terrorists, or green human-sized exploding-thingies. All of these people fear rationally; it's a downside to not having an amygdala.

But I think SM is a pretty cool guy. eh has no amygdala and doesn't afraid of anything. The lack of fear can certainly be a very good thing.

For instance, if we could make the amygdala something that could be turned on and off, America's next army of super soldiers might not even have to be robots controlled by morbidly obese gamers! They could just be normal amygdala-less people, charging in and blasting everything. There's no way that that could go wrong.

I had some other upsides, but I lost them along the way. I swear.

So let's move on to the personal aspects of the thing. No need to think too far ahead into the future.

First, SM has no loss aversion (theoretically). Loss aversion is a huge irrationality which affects almost all peoples. People tend to avoid losses as much as they can, even when it's small enough to have impact, or the aversion is irrational. Of course, it makes sense to avoid losing a few million, but avoiding the loss of a few dollars by holding stock where one stands to lose so much more rather than shorting (as in a company which one holds stock in nearing bankruptcy) is irrational. Not wanting to be late to a meeting, and thus cutting a red light is also irrational, and also a result of loss aversion. These are the sorts of scenarios that people face every day, which we could rationally decide on if it weren't for the amygdala.

Second, SM isn't subject to those pesky fear effects in all those video games. You know, those ones that prevent you from moving while the boss comes in to bite your head off? Yeah. That fear. SM would beast at those games.

Third, SM can say Candlejack all she wants and

1 comment:

  1. "to far"? I sure hope it was a typo and not something else...Sorry to be a grammar nazi, but I just had to.