Ever wondered why some people are scared of heights, men with beards, or the number 13?

Or why we cross our fingers or knock on wood to keep evil at bay?

The Australian Science Festival is celebrating Friday the 13th with a lecture on the science of spooks at the Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science tonight from 6pm.

Dr Annukka Lindell from the School of Psychological Science at Melbourne’s La Trobe University will explore the psychology of fears, phobias and superstition, and discover what’s happening in your brain when you’re frightened.

If you’ve ever wondered why people avoid walking under ladders, throw spilled salt over their shoulders, or worry about a black cat crossing their path, this talk is for you.

Combining the history of psychology with modern neuroscience, we’ll investigate how fears develop and explore the roles your mind and brain play in sustaining phobias and superstitions.