Human responses to ancestral and modern threats and their comparison to airborne pathogens (22-13381S)

Basic informations

Investigator: RNDr. Eva Landová, Ph.D.
Main recipient: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Co-recipient: Faculty of Science, Charles University
Research period: 1/1/2022 - 31/12/2024
Total budget: 9,938,000 CZK
NIMH budget: 3,136,000 CZK
Supported by: Czech Science Foundation (GAČR)


Humans are evolutionarily predisposed to perceive various ancestral, life-threatening stimuli as prioritized, exhibiting fast emotional and behavioral reaction in response. These stimuli may induce both fear (e.g., snakes) and disgust (e.g., infected food). The fast reaction may occur even in response to some modern stimuli, such as guns, though the scientific evidence is often ambiguous. Pandemics of airborne (mostly viral) pathogens (PoAP) represent one such modern, disgust-evoking threat, never-before in history hitting mankind as hard as today because humans lived in relatively small groups with limited contacts. The questions of utmost importance are: Are humans capable of immune behavioral response to cues linked to the airborne diseases? And if not, is it because airborne diseases represent modern threat the mankind is not evolutionarily predisposed to avoid? Here we aim to answer these questions using a set of experiments designed to measure self-reported as well as neurophysiological emotional response to a complex set of stimuli, directly comparable to the threat of PoAP.