Mot ett neurobiologiskt ramverk för exponeringsterapi - in vivo och imaginär exponering och rädslominnens beständighet.

Tidsperiod: 2015-01-01 till 2017-12-31

Projektledare: Thomas Ågren

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Projektbidrag

Budget: 3 000 000 SEK

Exposure therapy, directly derived from the process of extinction within the fear conditioning paradigm, is the most common psychological treatment of anxiety disorders. According to leading theorists, exposure therapy consists of activation of a fear memory followed by in vivo and imaginal exposure. The aim of this project is to translate clinically used exposure therapy into a comprehensive basic science model, using in vivo and imaginal extinction in order to examine the underlying neural mechanisms. In order to mimic the clinical use of exposure therapy as closely as possible, this project will study the impact of in vivo and imaginal extinction on fear memory reconsolidation (fear memory updating) and fear persistence. This will be achieved over several studies using psychophysiological measurements and brain imaging (fMRI). In this way, the efficacy of in vivo and imaginal extinction on fear memory persistence will be evaluated and compared. Healthy controls will be used to map the efficacy of these processes in the population. In addition, this project examines patients with specific phobia in order to study if they differ from healthy controls and to evaluate the use of these fear memory processes as biomarkers for anxiety. In this way, this project aims to provide a better understanding of the efficacy of the separate components of exposure therapy and their underlying neural mechanisms, working towards a comprehensive neurobiological framework for exposure therapy.