Phobia clinical trials at University of California Health
1 research study open to eligible people
open to eligible people ages 18-65
Specific phobias and other anxiety disorders represent a major mental health problem, and present a significant challenge to researchers because effective treatment usually involves repeated exposure to feared stimuli, and the high levels of associated distress can lead to termination of treatment. Recent advances in computational functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provide a method by which individuals may be unconsciously exposed to fearful stimuli, leading to effective fear reduction while eliminating a primary cause of attrition. The objective of the current study is to use the novel approach of neuro-reinforcement based on decoded fMRI information to reduce fear responses to fearful stimuli (e.g., spiders, heights) in individuals with phobias, directly and unconsciously in the brain, without repeatedly exposing participants to their feared stimuli. Participants will be randomized into one of three groups of varying neuro-reinforcement sessions (1, 3, or 5). They will complete tests of subjective fear and directed attention while being scanned by fMRI to measure engagement of amygdala activity to fearful stimuli as well as measured through other indicators of fear such as skin conductance response.