Snakes, Stress and Brain Science

July 15, 2014 6:42 PM

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Snakes, Stress and Brain Science

I'm in the Catskills in upstate New York this week and I snapped this picture of a snake that looked like it was about to eat my car. There's a lot of wildlife up here, and one of the things I love most about living in the woods is seeing creatures like this and trying to figure out exactly what it is I've seen by looking them up online. Once I got on the Internet, I discovered that this 4-foot-long snake was a harmless milk snake. I also watched a great video of a baby milk snake attacking a man who was brave enough to pick it up. Even though it's just a baby, you can see in this video that this snake's brain is programmed to attack.

The fascinating thing about evolution is that we all have this "reptilian" part of our brain that wants to attack, no matter what the circumstances. Fortunately for us, we have other parts of our brain (like the prefrontal cortex) that are layered on top of the reptilian brain, that keep us from doi...

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