Effects of Imagery Rescripting on Emotional Responses During Imagination of a Socially Aversive Experience
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social anxiety
unconditioned stimulus revaluation
posttraumatic memory characteristics


Imagery rescripting (ImRs) of socially aversive memories is a promising intervention in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder. Little is known about the effects of ImRs on physiological responses to the rescripted socially aversive memory, which was the focus of this study in a healthy sample. Thirty individuals performed an imagination task measuring psychophysiological responses and subjective feelings (post-hoc) related to the rescripted memory, as well as to two control memories. In a within-subject design, participants completed the imagination task before and after a control intervention, and subsequently after one session ImRs of the socially aversive memory. At one-week follow-up, lasting effects on social anxiety and subjective feelings were assessed online (N = 26). ImRs of the socially aversive memory resulted in a significant reduction in negative feelings and activity of the corrugator supercilii, as well as a significant increase in valence and positive feelings related to the socially aversive memory compared to both control memories. However, only effects for positive feelings and corrugator supercilii were significantly stronger for ImRs compared to the control intervention. Lasting effects appeared for fear of negative evaluation and subjective emotional responses to the rescripted memory. These findings give preliminary evidence for the impact of ImRs on emotional aspects of the rescripted memory, indicating that ImRs might work through changing the representation of the aversive event in memory.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Rosa J. Seinsche, Susanne Fricke, Axel Schäfer, Marie Kristin Neudert, Raphaela I. Zehtner, Rudolf Stark, Andrea Hermann