Anatomy of Fear. Literature Review of Neuroscience of Trauma

By Katarina Subotić,

Master in Applied Neuroscience student.


The purpose of this literature review is to explore already existing research on emotional trauma, high stress exposure and their effect on the nervous system. The starting question is: Does, and if so, how the high stress levels and emotional trauma affect structures of the brain, nervous system and the whole body as a result.


PubMed electronic database was used for research of various studies documenting effect of stress/trauma on brain and its different structures. Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah was used for video presentation of brain anatomy.


Initial research provided 27 abstracts, from which 15 were excluded as the studies were not fully published. A total of 4 studies were far two detailed in chemistry and pharmacology for the scope of this study, so 8 studies were used to document goal of this review — effect of fear and trauma on the nervous system.


The results showed that fear is not only emotion — it is a state of being with tangible anatomy and physiology. Trauma is one of the leading and most overlooked causes of physical and mental health issues. Somatic approach to treating emotional and physical trauma has shown solid results in trauma survivors. Further research is needed into these kind of therapies so they can be established  in mainstream health care system and made more available to population in general.


Keywords: limbic system, trauma, stress, nervous system, fear, brain, somatic.


You can read and download the full article here: Subotić, K. (2022). Anatomy of Fear. Literature Review of Neuroscience of Trauma.