What System of Your Body Would Be Activated If You Were Surprised?

February 15, 2024

The body is made of lots of parts called organ systems that work hand in hand to keep the body healthy and running smoothly. The nervous system carries messages all over the body, from your brain to your limbs and back again. The nervous system helps you to move, think, smell, feel, and even eat.

Your endocrine system (say: END-oh-krin) makes hormones to help control things like your growth. Your immune system is set up to fight germs and disease. It sends white blood cells to attack anything that might make you sick, and sometimes they kill the germs and you get well. But if your immune system isn't working right, you can get sick from germs that shouldn't be there.

Our digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and excretory systems transport different kinds of materials in and out of the body. Food, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and waste are all transported through these systems.

If you see a spiky cactus falling off a shelf headed for your friend, your nerves and brain tell you to jump up and yell to warn your friend. This is because the spiky cactus is a threat, and your body wants to protect itself. Studies have shown that surprised faces activate the same brain regions as fearful faces do, but that the lateral intraparietal area of the human parietal cortex is specifically active for surprising face recognition and modulated by updating (see this article for details). This suggests that the difference between surprise and fear lies in a distinct valence of the stimulus—surprise conveys a sense of novelty or unexpectedness, while fear signals a threat.

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