Background: Fear overgeneralization is a central feature of anxiety disorders and can lead to excessive avoidance. As perceptual discrimination is a key component of fear overgeneralization, a perceptual discrimination training task was created aimed at improving perceptual discrimination and reducing fear overgeneralization. Methods: Participants with high spider fear were randomized into training or placebo conditions. After completing their assigned task, perceptual discrimination was tested. Thereafter, participants completed a behavioral avoidance test, consisting of five stimuli ranging from a paper spider to a live tarantula. Last, participants completed a threat/safety discrimination task using schematic morphs ranging from a flower to a spider, while self-report and skin conductance responses were collected. Results: The training group showed better perceptual discrimination during the test than did the placebo group. Furthermore, as stimuli became increasingly similar to a live spider, participants in the training group exhibited decreased avoidance behavior. Finally, participants in the training group indicated that schematic morphs were less similar to a spider and showed less physiological arousal than did the placebo group. Conclusions: Together, these results attest to the possible clinical relevance of the perceptual discrimination training.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Depression and Anxiety|
|State||Published - 1 Sep 2019|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- discrimination learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health