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Neurosci Lett. 2003 Sep 4;348(1):29-32.

Brain activation to phobia-related pictures in spider phobic humans: an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

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  • 1Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Haus 1 Am Steiger 3, D-07743 Jena, Germany.


Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging we investigated blood oxygen level dependent brain activation in spider phobic and non-phobic subjects while exposed to phobia-related pictures (spiders) and non-phobia-related pictures (snakes and mushrooms). In contrast to previous studies, we show significantly increased amygdala activation in spider phobics, but not in controls, during presentation of phobia-relevant visual stimuli. Furthermore, phobia-specific increased activation was also found in the insula, the orbitofrontal cortex and the uncus. Our study confirms the role of the amygdala in fear processing and provides insights into brain activation patterns when animal phobics are confronted with phobia-related stimuli.

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