Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

EMOTION

Imagine no fear

The neural mechanisms underlying the effects of imaginal exposure therapy, in which threat-associated situations are repeatedly imagined to reduce fear responses, are unknown. Here, participants learned to associate an auditory tone with a shock, and were then exposed to the tone alone (real extinction) or asked to imagine the tone (imagined extinction). Both types of extinction reduced fMRI-measured threat-related responses after threat reinstatement. Similar networks — including the ventromedial prefrontal cortex as a central hub — were recruited by real and imagined extinction. However, the success of real and imagined extinction was predicted by activity in the nucleus accumbens and CA1, respectively, suggesting that they reduce threat responses in distinct ways.

References

Original article

  • Reddan, M. C., Wager, T. D. & Schiller, D. Attenuating neural threat expression with imagination. Neuron 100, 994–1005 (2018)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natasha Bray.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bray, N. Imagine no fear. Nat Rev Neurosci 20, 4 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-018-0102-4

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-018-0102-4

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing