Pilot Study of Pharmaceutical and Behavioral Interventions to Treat Anxiety Disorders

Conditions:Anxiety, Psychiatric
Therapuetic Areas:Psychiatry / Psychology
Age Range:18 - 35
Start Date:November 2010
Contact:Scott Orr, Ph.D.
Phone:(617) 643-7269

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Psychophysiology of Delayed Extinction and Reconsolidation in Humans

The aim of this project is to create fear conditioning paradigm within which the relative
strengths of various novel pharmacological and behavioral interventions can be tested. These
interventions are intended to reduce the fearfulness associated with fear conditioning by
blocking a memory process known as reconsolidation. In fear conditioning, a "conditioned"
stimulus (CS) is paired with an aversive "unconditioned" stimulus (US) such as an electric
shock, until presentation of the CS alone comes to elicit a fear conditioned response (CR).
The investigators hypothesize that by using a more highly prepared CS (i.e. video of
spiders); more sensitive subjects (individuals with stronger acquired CRs); and additional
experimental probes for the presence of the latent CR, the investigators may develop a
normal human paradigm that is not plagued by previously observed floor effects (i.e.
intervention is 100% effective), within which both the established techniques of propranolol
and delayed extinction will produce significant, but only partial, CR reduction. This would
leave room to test and compare potentially more powerful candidate reconsolidation-blocking
or memory-updating interventions. To achieve these aims, subjects will undergo a four-day
fear conditioning and delayed extinction protocol. Skin conductance response data will be
gathered across the different phases of the experiment.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Age 18-35

- Top half of the normal human distribution of the Spider Phobia Questionnaire-15

Exclusion Criteria:'

- Any criteria for diagnosable spider phobia

- Any current Axis I mental disorder on the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV

- Presence of drugs of abuse (e.g. opiates, marijuana, cocaine, or amphetamines) per
urine screen

- Non-English speaking (due to lack of validated questionnaires/instruments in other
We found this trial at
Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129
Charlestown, MA
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