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Social Support and Enhanced Fear Extinction


Brief Summary

University of California, Los Angeles researchers will recruit healthy participants and anxious participants (those diagnosed with social anxiety disorder) age 18-55 years old to participate in a study examining whether the ability of social support figure reminders to enhance the extinction of fear in healthy participants extends to those with anxiety disorders.

After being recruited from the UCLA community (healthy participants, n = 50) or referred by treatment providers at the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at UCLA (anxious participants, n = 50) and undergoing a telephone screening and in-person screening, 100 participants will be enrolled in the study, with an expected recruited 150 to reach this number. During the experiment, all participants will undergo the same procedures: undergoing a fear extinction procedure in which threatening cues--cues that predict electric shock--will be paired with either an image of a social support figure (provided by participants) or an image of a smiling stranger. These pairings will be presented repeatedly in the absence of shock in order for fear extinction to occur. Participants will return for a follow-up test to determine if fear extinction was successful.

Primary Purpose
Basic Science
Study Type


Healthy Volunteers
Minimum Age
18 Years
Maximum Age
55 Years

Inclusion Criteria:

  • healthy adults 18 to 55
  • fluent in English
  • no history of mental illness (healthy participants: including anxiety, depression, phobia, or any other mental health related disorder diagnosed by a mental health professional)
  • diagnosis of social anxiety disorder (anxious participants: allowed co-morbid disorders include depression, other anxiety disorders, and PTSD)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • pregnant or planning to become pregnant during the experiment period
  • presence of chronic mental illness (healthy participants: as determined by the report of a past diagnosis of mental illness by a physician or psychologist and/or the prescription of medication related to mental health disorder; including anxiety, depression, phobia, or any other diagnosed psychological disorder)
  • presence of non-allowed co-morbid disorders (anxious participants: including, bipolar disorder, psychosis, substance use disorder, neurological disorder, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • current and regular use of prescription medications related to mental health disorders

Join this Trial

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Study Stats
Protocol No.
Principal Investigator
Erica Hornstein
For Providers
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