Are you afraid of spiders? Well according to a new study, it turns out that further exposure to these 8-legged arachnids might just be the cure.
In the study, twelve human subjects were selected based on a diagnostic criteria for the specfic phobia of spiders. Each was exposed to a live Chilean rose tarantula (5 inches in diameter) in a closed container (phew!) and their ability to approach the arachnid was measured and their neural activity monitored.
The results indicated that before treatment, “phobogenic images excited activity in a network of regions, including amygdala, insula, and cingulate cortex, relative to neutral images”. Following the exposure therapy, dampened responsiveness was observed with concomitantly heightening prefrontal involvement, and after six months each subject maintained a reduced visual responsiveness to phobogenic images.
The study suggests that the successful therapy is a result of a reorganisation of the fear-linked responses in the brain and as noted in the study, opens new opportunities for the treatment and prevention of debilitating anxiety disorders.
So go and find some spiders!