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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2007 (2007), Article ID 10241, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2007/10241
Clinical Study

A Spiderless Arachnophobia Therapy: Comparison between Placebo and Treatment Groups and Six-Month Follow-Up Study

1Institute of Psychology, University of São Paulo, 1721 Avenue of Professor Mello Moraes, São Paulo 05508-030, Brazil
2Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, 1524 Avenue Professor Lineu Prestes, Prédio Biomédicas I Cidade Universitária, São Paulo 05508-900, Brazil
3Department of Electronic Systems Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of São Paulo, 802 Rua Alameda Barros, Apartment T3, São Paulo 01232-000, Brazil

Received 28 January 2007; Accepted 2 May 2007

Academic Editor: Patrice Venault

Copyright © 2007 Laura Carmilo Granado et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We describe a new arachnophobia therapy that is specially suited for those individuals with severe arachnophobia who are reluctant to undergo direct or even virtual exposure treatments. In this therapy, patients attend a computer presentation of images that, while not being spiders, have a subset of the characteristics of spiders. The Atomium of Brussels is an example of such an image. The treatment group (n=13) exhibited a significant improvement (time × group interaction: P=.0026) when compared to the placebo group (n=12) in a repeated measures multivariate ANOVA. A k-means clustering algorithm revealed that, after 4 weeks of treatment, 42% of the patients moved from the arachnophobic to the nonarachnophobic cluster. Six months after concluding the treatment, a follow-up study showed a substantial consolidation of the recovery process where 92% of the arachnophobic patients moved to the nonarachnophobic cluster.