the human brain

Studies involving S.M. [ who had amygdala damage] are actually a hoot to read, since they basically consist of scientists dreaming up ever-more-elaborate ways to scare her. For instance, doctors once drove her to an exotic pet store that carried snakes. On the ride over she claimed to hate snakes, but as soon as she arrived she practically yanked the serpents out of the store clerk’s hands to play with them. She even tried stroking the snakes’ tongues (snakes do not like this), and asked fifteen separate times to pet some of the venomous snakes on hand. Her doctors also ran her through a haunted house—an old lunatic asylum with plenty of creaking doors and shadowy corners for monsters to leap out of. Five strangers, all women, toured with S.M. and served as effective controls. They screamed every few seconds, but S.M. was always dashing ahead to find out what was next. At one point she jabbed a monster—an actor on duty—in the head because she wanted to know what his mask felt like. She ended up scaring him.
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean

 

dueling surgeons

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