Dual-tasking attenuates the return of fear after extinction

A. Leer*, I. M. Engelhard, P. Dibbets, Marcel A. van den Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

75 Downloads (Pure)


Return of fear following exposure treatment may be explained by ABA-renewal: fear acquired in context A, and extinguished in context B, may return in context A. Conditioning theory predicts that intensity of conditioned fear is mediated by the mental representation of the unconditioned stimulus (US) evoked by the conditioned stimulus (CS). This study tested whether US-devaluation via a dual-task - imagining the US while making eye movements - attenuates fear renewal. Participants acquired fear in context A, and underwent extinction in context A or B. Next, two groups did a filler task (AAA; ABA), one a dual-task of US imagination with eye movements (ABA-DT), and one merely imagined the US (ABA-RO). Finally, participants were re-presented the CSs in context A. ABA-renewal was found for US-expectancy. Dual-tasking, but not recall only, reduced fear renewal. No between-group differences were observed in reductions of vividness, emotionality, and startle responses to the US. Findings suggest that dual-tasking may attenuate fear renewal. (C) Copyright 2013 Textrum Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-340
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Context
  • Dual-tasking
  • EMDR
  • Extinction
  • Fear renewal
  • US-devaluation

Cite this