Schedule of Events | Search Abstracts | Symposia | Invited Symposia | Poster Sessions | Data Blitz Sessions

Poster B11

Enhancing Resilience: A Novel Fear Conditioning Intervention for Mitigating Social Anxiety in Undergraduate Students

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

M. Shrestha1, S. Sklenarik1, L. Budge1, P. Long1, L. Klin1, M. Astur1, H. Posada-Quintero1, K. Treadwell1, D. F. Tolin3, R. S. Astur2; 1University of Connecticut

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a highly prevalent anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming fear in social situations, and it affects ~12% of the population. To reduce anxiety in this population, we used a fear conditioning paradigm to determine the efficacy of the addition of novel tone to replace the unconditioned stimulus during extinction, compared to standard extinction procedures whereby nothing occurs to replace the unconditioned stimulus. Forty undergraduates from UConn who met the criteria for moderate to severe social anxiety were recruited for this study. In a paradigm adapted from Dunsmoor et al., (2015), participants were conditioned to fear one of two angry faces by pairing one of the faces with aversive electrical stimulation to the forearm. Participants then underwent a standard extinction protocol (shock omission) or an augmented extinction protocol (shock omission + novel tone). Physiological fear measures were obtained via electrodermal response. Initial analyses indicate that participants in both groups underwent similar extinction. However, during reinstatement, participants in the novelty-based extinction condition showed significantly enhanced fear reduction to the fearful face compared to participants in the standard extinction condition (p < 0.001). These results suggest that the addition of a novel innocuous stimulus to replace the unconditioned stimulus may be beneficial in increasing extinction efficiency, and extensions of this protocol to exposure therapy might be helpful in improving SAD outcomes.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding


CNS Account Login


April 13–16  |  2024