A novel perceptual discrimination training task: Reducing fear overgeneralization in the context of fear learning

Rivkah Ginat-Frolich, Zohar Klein, Omer Katz, Tomer Shechner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Generalization is an adaptive learning mechanism, but it can be maladaptive when it occurs in excess. A novel perceptual discrimination training task was therefore designed to moderate fear overgeneralization. We hypothesized that improvement in basic perceptual discrimination would translate into lower fear overgeneralization in affective cues. Seventy adults completed a fear-conditioning task prior to being allocated into training or placebo groups. Predesignated geometric shape pairs were constructed for the training task. A target shape from each pair was presented. Thereafter, participants in the training group were shown both shapes and asked to identify the image that differed from the target. Placebo task participants only indicated the location of each shape on the screen. All participants then viewed new geometric pairs and indicated whether they were identical or different. Finally, participants completed a fear generalization test consisting of perceptual morphs ranging from the CS + to the CS-. Fear-conditioning was observed through physiological and behavioural measures. Furthermore, the training group performed better than the placebo group on the assessment task and exhibited decreased fear generalization in response to threat/safety cues. The findings offer evidence for the effectiveness of the novel discrimination training task, setting the stage for future research with clinical populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Fear conditioning
  • Fear learning
  • Fear overgeneralization
  • Generalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'A novel perceptual discrimination training task: Reducing fear overgeneralization in the context of fear learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this