Mental Imagery in Fear Extinction: A Multi-Component Examination Based on Behavioral, Physiological, and Neurological Measures
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Imagery has long been utilized in clinical treatments of affective symptoms with the assumption that mental imagery can stand in for its perceptual counterpart and exert regulatory effects over emotional responses. While this assumption has its ground in theoretical framework of mental imagery supported by evidence of neurological overlaps between imagery and perception, and clinical applications of imagery interventions were found to be successful, very little has been done through means of experimental examinations.
This investigation began with a differential fear conditioning study (study 1) to simulate and assess imagery extinction. Results provided support for the efficacy of imagery exposure in that no spontaneous recovery was observed upon re-exposure based on skin conductance response/SCR. Study 2 sought to replicate the findings of study 1 with the adjustments of conditioning parameters to strengthen the conditioning effect, and the addition of neuroimaging data collection. Successful replication was achieved.
Efforts of engaging a range of measurement types were explicitly made in consideration of the multi-component view emotion. An area for future research in to include simultaneous behavioral indices of fear. To pave the ground, a third study (study 3) was conducted to inspect such possibility through a basic visual attention task. It was found that this specific task was sensitive to differential conditioning and did not lead to interference with conditioning as measured by self-reported fear and SCR supporting its use in similar conditioning designs.
Jiang, Xinrui, "Mental Imagery in Fear Extinction: A Multi-Component Examination Based on Behavioral, Physiological, and Neurological Measures" (2021). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 5532.
Greening, Steven G.