Oct 19, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon ...

1 big thing: How your brain works when you're brave

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Scientists have learned a lot about how our brains work in dangerous situations — and how they work in people who have learned to control their fears, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: If science can find ways to make us braver — not stupidly brave, just better able to face danger — we might all be more functional people and be more willing to take risks, from starting businesses to living more adventurous lives.

  • We might also be able to treat serious conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.

How fear works, per the WSJ:

  • A protein called stathmin — which works in the amygdala, an area deep the brain that produces fear and anxiety — seems to have an important role, since mice that were bred not to have it were more willing to explore their surroundings.
  • There are also structures of the brain that help resist the cues from the amygdala.
  • A hormone called oxytocin helps mothers overcome their fears when their children are in danger, according to a study of maternal instinct in mammals.
  • People can be trained to control their fears, too. Military training helps, as the WSJ notes in the harrowing story of a British bomb disposal officer who stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost both of his legs.

One way the scientists can be so sure: They've scanned the brain of Alex Honnold, the guy who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes. (He's featured in the documentary "Free Solo.") "When exposed to images that excite the amygdala in most people, his brain scans showed no response," per the WSJ.

The bottom line: There's no clear roadmap or timetable for when science will allow us to control these factors. But now that we're getting such a clear idea of how it works, it's probably just a matter of time.

2. What you missed

Honduran migrants lift a child over the gate of the Guatemala-Mexico international border bridge. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

  • Honduran migrants in the caravan heading toward the U.S. tore down a border gate between Guatemala and Mexico Friday afternoon. The latest.
  • The Department of Justice filed charges against a Russian national for crimes related to interference in this year's midterm elections. Details.
  • Michael Cohen told CNN that everyone should vote in November or risk "another two or another six years of this craziness." Watch the interview.
  • The U.S. could blow its advantage in self-driving cars through tariffs that disrupt global markets, a science and tech policy think tank says. Here's why.
  • Former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is the new head of Facebook's global affairs and communications team. What it means.
  • Amazon executives have been making follow-up visits to some of the finalist sites for its second headquarters, including New York City, Newark and Chicago, per the WSJ.
Honduran migrants try to push open the gate of the Guatemala-Mexico international border bridge. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images
3. 1 🚗 thing

Entrepreneurs and investors are finding a lucrative new opportunity, Bloomberg reports: storing cars for rich people who have too many of them.

  • "Car warehouses that can store a hundred or more pricey vehicles are beginning to pop up across the U.S., according to car collectors and wealth managers who are witnessing the trend."
  • Los Angeles media entrepreneur Matt Farah says he already has a waiting list of 85 people ready to pay between $850-$1,500 per month for a space in a 13,800 square-foot garage he's building near the beach.
  • "Collectors are snapping up everything from vintage Mercedes and Ferraris to 1960s muscle cars like Chevy Chevelles and Plymouth Barracudas to brand new limited edition autos such as the Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive."
  • "Also in big demand is the official transportation of the peace-and-love, money-bashing Woodstock generation: the beat-up Volkswagen bus."

Stare at the cars.

Mike Allen