I love the month of October. I love the crisp, cooler temps. I love pumpkin-flavored beer and lattes. And I love Halloween. But I love Halloween for haunted houses not for dressing up. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Midwest, a region of the country known for its haunted houses and villages. Haunted history coupled with beautiful colonial architecture is also why Savannah, Georgia is my favorite city in the US. This month, I’ve gone to two haunted houses. Two weekends ago, I went to the Chamber of Horrors–an adults only haunted house in Atlanta. It wasn’t so much frightening as it was repulsive. There was lots of cursing and expelling of bodily fluids (actually all water). This past weekend, however, I went to my favorite haunted attraction-Ghost Lake at Conneaut Lake Park in Western Pennsylvania. My grandparents would take us there as kids. I had my first kiss there as a teenager. Since then, the park has been sporadically open which is unfortunate because it is home to one of the older wooden roller coasters in the US. Here are some photos that I took during the off-year. 

Kissing the Dead

OK. Back to haunted houses. I like haunted houses because I am addicted to the anticipation of being scared and the uncertainties. However, I was surprised to learn that there is no scientific literature on the physiological cascade of events that occurs during or following a visit to a haunted house. At the level of the central nervous system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis would be recruited. As the name implies, the signal originates in the hypothalamus which releases corticotropin-releasing hormone, travels to the pituitary where ACTH is released, and then finally adrenaline is released from the adrenals. There are other structural and signaling elements that are likely involved including the sympathetic nervous system, acetylcholine, and dopamine, to an extent, but I wish the science was somewhat elucidated. Oh well. I will have to investigate when I have my own laboratory.