Mindfulness and fear conditioning

Jones, F. W., McLaren, R. and McLaren, I.P. (2017) Mindfulness and fear conditioning. In: Gunzelmann, G., Howes, A., Tenbrink, T. and Davelaar, E., eds. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, Texas: Cognitive Science Society. pp. 2327-2332 ISBN 9780991196760

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During mindfulness-based interventions participants can be invited to bring aversive stimuli to mind while practicing mindfulness. This is thought to help the stimuli become less aversive. However, the mechanisms underlying this process are not fully understood.

In this study we explored these by examining the effects of mindfulness practice and stimulus visualization on stimuli associated with electric shocks. Participants were trained on a discrimination between two visual stimuli using a standard electrodermal conditioning procedure, in which one stimulus (CS+) was paired with shock and the other (CS-) was not. They then visualized either the CS+ or CS-, while practicing mindfulness or performing a control activity. Following a number of extinction trials, the impact of these manipulations was assessed during a reacquisition test-phase. Both mindfulness and visualization of the CS+ led to slower reacquisition of the CS+/shock association, when measured physiologically, and their effects were additive. Moreover, these effects dissociated from participants’ expectancy of shock.

If confirmed in future work, these findings may have implications for the treatment of stimulus-specific anxiety.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0180 Experimental psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Fergal W. Jones
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 10:57
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2017 10:59
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16137

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00