Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 06 Apr 2016 Trypophobia causes b ...

Trypophobia causes brain to work harder

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Apr 6, 2016, 12:48 am IST
Updated Apr 6, 2016, 12:48 am IST
It can trigger reactions like nausea, shortness of breath and a racing heart.
Researchers proposed that the discomfort occurs precisely because people avoid looking at the images because they require excessive brain oxygenation.
 Researchers proposed that the discomfort occurs precisely because people avoid looking at the images because they require excessive brain oxygenation.

Researchers proposed that the discomfort occurs precisely because people avoid looking at the images because they require excessive brain oxygenation.

Since the advent of the Internet, people have been able to discuss their symptoms with others globally. Sometimes people with very unusual symptoms discover others with similar experiences, which they are then able to discuss without fear of ridicule.

 

Discussion forums and support groups are formed and eventually a new medical condition may be recognised. A case in point is “visual snow”, which individuals experience as bright dots persistently floating like snow across their vision. Another is trypophobia. Trypophobia — a “fear of holes” — is a condition which triggers individuals to suffer an emotional reaction when viewing seemingly innocuous images of clusters of objects, usually holes. The condition was first described on the Internet in 2005 though it is not yet a recognised medical diagnosis.

 

The images responsible for the emotion include natural objects such as honeycomb or the lotus seed head, and man-made objects such as aerated chocolate or stacked industrial pipes viewed end-on. Despite their seemingly innocuous nature, images such as these (ideal for sharing on the Internet) can induce a variety of symptoms including cognitive changes that reflect anxiety, bodily symptoms that are skin-related (such as itchiness and goose-bumps), and physiological changes (such as nausea, a racing heart, or trouble catching breath).

The images that induce the emotional reaction would not normally be conceived of as threatening so, in this respect, trypophobia differs from many other phobias.

 

Mathematical properties

Phobias are anxiety disorders that are normally thought to arise because of learning (a dog bite may lead to a fear of dogs) or because of innate evolutionary mechanisms such as may underlie a fear of spiders and snakes. Usually, there is a threat, specific or general, real or imagined.

In the case of trypophobia, there is no obvious threat, and the range of images that induce the phobia have very little in common with one another, other than their configuration. It appears that it is this configuration that holds the key to the emotion that the images induce. Individuals who do not profess trypophobia find trypophobic images aversive, although they do not experience the emotion. They do so because the configuration gives the image mathematical properties that are shared by most images that cause visual discomfort, eyestrain or headache.

 

Images with these mathematical properties can’t be processed efficiently by the brain and therefore require more brain oxygenation. In a paper, researchers proposed that the discomfort occurs precisely because people avoid looking at the images because they require excessive brain oxygenation. (The brain uses about 20 per cent of the body’s energy, and its energy usage needs to be kept to a minimum.)

— Source: www.popsci.com

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