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Gender and Age Differences (Fredrikson, Annas, Fischer, & Wik, 1996) Examined the prevalence rates of phobias including lightning, enclosed spaces, darkness,

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Presentation on theme: "Gender and Age Differences (Fredrikson, Annas, Fischer, & Wik, 1996) Examined the prevalence rates of phobias including lightning, enclosed spaces, darkness,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender and Age Differences (Fredrikson, Annas, Fischer, & Wik, 1996) Examined the prevalence rates of phobias including lightning, enclosed spaces, darkness, flying, heights, spiders, snakes, injections, dentists and injuries 704 subjects, age 18-70 Questionnaire responses ( True/False: I give up on things because of my fear/ I cannot control my fear) Visual analogus scale (zero no fear at all, 100 maximum fear) Women reported significantly > intense fear than men for all separate items and groups of items Fear ratings of animals (particularly spiders) > in younger individuals


3 Declarative Memory The capacity for conscious recollection about facts and events The hippocampus involved rapid encoding of events as associations among stimulus elements and context encoding of episodes as sequences of events linking episodes by common features into relational networks that support flexible inferential memory expression Amygdala damage linked to disruptions in long term declarative memory for emotional arousing material



6 Preconscious Processing Examined possible preconscious processing bias in anxiety and SP 37 spider phobics Significant association with interference measures on masked and unmasked modified Stroop task Stimuli: unmasked spider words (hidden, spider, web, creep, legs, fear, hairy and insect) unmasked neutral words (percentage, square, potato, month, fork, blanket, pen, pocket) masked spider words and masked neutral words High fear group had greater interference on both tasks Displays preconscious selective processing of threat words in phobics Interference decreases after treatment Suggests preconscious biases are influenced by behaviour therapy


8 Modified Conditioning Model of SP Belief that one could teach an animal or infant to respond fearfully to harmless situation or objects through pairing the harmless stimulus with a frightening one Adapted theory from work of Watson, in the belief that specific phobics are unrealistically afraid of what most view as harmless Problematic: most do not remember conditioning their fear, only a small number account for most human phobias, not all encounters result in phobia, & phobias do not extinguish in the same was as laboratory conditioned fear


10 Nonassociative Model of SP Each species has certain fears that are part of development and can occur even if there is no previous direct or indirect experience with the phobic stimulus Examples are noted in child development literature (stranger anxiety, fear of visual cliff, separation anxiety) Explained by two theories

11 (1) Menzies and Clarke (1995) SP develops when there is a failure of successful habituation of the intrinsic fear Absence of chance for safe exposure- realistic experience of non-frightening interaction with the phobic stimulus (child introduced to big dog with protective guidance from parent resulting in positive experience)

12 (2) Rachman (1990) Physiological response to the phobic stimulus Majority of individuals with blood injury phobia experience drop in blood pressure/heart rate when confronted with phobic stimulus Sweating, light-headedness, fainting May be innate or unlearned response to phobic stimulus

13 Multifactorial Model (Muris et al., 2002) Proposed model rests on the following observations: (1) Most children display normal developmental fears that decrease over time (2) A small of amount of children have a genetic vulnerability factor predisposing them to maladaptive fears (3) Genetic vulnerability arises in specific behavioral patterns (4) Environmental factors interact with normal fears and linked with genetic vulnerability behavioral pattern produce persistent fears that culminate in SP (5) When phobia exists it is maintained by cognitive biases

14 Parenting Kindt and colleagues (2001): information processing biases in childhood is dependent on ability to inhibit attention to threat This in suggested to be in place around 10-12 Previous researchers have linked emotional development to early emotional experience and highlighted a role of parenting (Izard, Fine, Mostow, Trentacosta, & Campbell, 2002) Proposed parental influences: exposure to situations in which emotions arise, the modeling of appropriate emotional responses, the provision of practice opportunities, coaching or induction processes and appropriate contingent responding (Camras, Sachs- Alter, & Ribordy, 1996) Parenting which helps children to maintain positive affect and to minimize negative affect: associated with increased social-emotional competence in children (Denham, 1993) Discussion or coaching from parents provides information about specific situations in which emotions arise

15 Neurological Research (Straube, Mentzel, & Miltner., 2006) Study explored brain activation during automatic and direct processing of phobogenic stimuli Looked at phobia-related (spiders) and neutral (mushrooms) picture responses with fMRI Identification task (identify spider or mushroom) Demanding distraction task (match figures in the foreground of the pictures)





20 When in Doubt Look for a Meta Analysis (Etkin & Wager, 2007) Explored common and disorder-specific functional neurobiological deficits across anxiety disorders Compared deficits to neural systems activated during anticipatory anxiety to controls fMRI and PET studies of PTSD, SAD, SP, and fear conditioning in controls compared by quantitative meta analysis Compared negative emotional processing to baseline, neutral or positive emotion conditions



23 Potential Phobic Stimulus Genetic Inhibitory Predisposition Safe Exposure Fear of Phobic Stimulus Secondary Features: occupational, social and academic impairments Comorbidity Normal Emotional Response Absence of Safe Exposure Atypical Emotional Response Atypical Development in Cognitive Capacities

24 References American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. Essau, C. A., Conradt, J., & Petermann, F. (2000). Frequency, comorbidity and psychosocial impairment of specific phobia in adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 221-231. Fredrikson, M., Annas, P., Fischer, H., & Wik, G. (1996). Gender and age differences in the prevalence of specific fears and phobias. Behavioral Research Theories, 34, 33-39. Henke, K. (2010). A model for memory systems based on processing modes rather than consciousness. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(7), 523-532 Muris, P., Henk, S., & Merckelbach, H. (1998). The structure of specific phobia symptoms among children and adolescents. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 863-868. Muris, P., Merckelbach, H., de Jong, P. J., & Ollendick, T. H. (2002). The etiology of specific fears and phobias in children: a critique of the non-associative account. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40, 185-195. Staube, T., Mentzel, H., & Miltner, W. H. R. (2005). Neural mechanisms of automatic and direct processing of phobogenic stimuli in specific phobia. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 162-170. Squire, L. R. (2004). Memory systems of the brain: A brief history and current perspective. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 82, 171-177. Van den Hout, M., Tenney, N., Huygens, K., & De Jong, P. (1997). Precounscious processing bias in specific phobia. Behavioural Research Therapy, 35, 29-34.

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