The study conducted by researchers from US says, showing images of spiders in a brief period could help arachnophobes overcome their fear.
For the study, the researchers gathered 21 young women with a phobia of spiders. They were shown images of spiders for a split second in between image of flowers. Then they were also shown clear images of spider for a longer time.
Quickly showing pictures of spiders may help arachnophobes (c) Youtube
The brain activity of the participants was also monitored, and compared with that of women with no phobias.
The results showed, the group with phobias who saw the spider images very quickly, they had a strong activity in areas of the brain that regulate emotional and behavioural responses to fear.
On the other hand, when arachnophobes were shown clear images of spiders for a longer time, the brain was unable to control its response to fear, causing them to experience the full force of their phobia.
Paul Siegel, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Purchase College of the State University of New York told the BBC
, "Counter-intuitively, our study showed that the brain is better able to process feared stimuli when they are presented without conscious awareness."
"Our findings suggest that phobic people may be better prepared to face their fears if at first they are not consciously aware that they've faced them."
Scans suggested that the brain worked harder to regulate emotional and behavioral responses to fear when it was not conscious of it.
"This approach aims to replace the fear response of a phobia with a relaxation response, through gradual exposure to the phobia inducing stimulus," Nicky Lidbetter, from charity Anxiety UK, said when asked about the technique.