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Polygence Scholar2022
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Alyson Nguyen

Evergreen Valley High SchoolClass of 2023San Jose, CA



  • "Specific phobias in children: Etiology, treatment, and directions for future research" with mentor Isabella (Aug. 12, 2022)

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Specific phobias in children: Etiology, treatment, and directions for future research

Started Apr. 20, 2022

Abstract or project description

Specific phobia is a psychological disorder characterized by the exaggerated fear of a specific object or situation that cannot be reasoned away. High distress and great lengths of avoidance towards this object or situation are common symptoms. Natural-environment phobia, blood-injury-injection phobia, and animal phobia are the three varieties of specific phobias that symptoms tend to group into. The present review summarizes four attributes of the development and current research in the field of specific phobias in children. First, the review considers the neurobiological origins of specific phobias with a particular focus on the involvement of the amygdala in fear conditioning and sensitization. The altered activity of the medial prefrontal cortex in subjects with specific phobia is also discussed. Second, it surveys how parenting techniques and behaviors can influence the development and maintenance of symptoms of children’s phobias. Parenting practices such as hypervigilance, overinvovlement, and overprotection can have negative effects on a child’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and ability to be independent. Next, the review explores the prevalence, productiveness, and cost-efficiency of one session treatments (OST) for specific phobias in children and adolescents. These treatments demonstrate direct conditioning as one of the promising methods in reducing symptoms of a specific phobia. Finally, the review criticizes the lack of heterogeneous sample groups, as well as subjects' unwillingness to participate in current research for treatment of the disorder, questioning whether present treatments are indeed effective at all. This systematic review ends by introducing potential future directions for treatment to eliminate specific phobias in children.