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  • Impact Factor: 0.426 (2016)
  • CiteScore 2017: 0.68
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  • SCImago Journal Rank (SJR):0,252
  • Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP):0,293

© Thomson Reuters, Journal Citation Reports, 2017

Eur J Psychiatry 2017;31:23-36 - DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpsy.2016.12.003
Original article
A meta-analytic review of neuroimaging studies of specific phobia to small animals
W. Peñatea,b,, , A. Fumeroa, C. Viñaa, M. Herreroa, R.J. Marreroa,b, F. Riveroa
a Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud – Sección Psicología, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
b Instituto Universitario en Neurociencias (IUNE), Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Received 23 May 2016, Accepted 09 November 2016

Neuroimaging techniques have been used to identify the neurological bases of phobias.


This meta-review examines functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of individuals with specific animal phobia compared to healthy controls.


Searches on Medline, Psycinfo, Academic Search Complete, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, Redalyc, Scopus, and Cochrane databases were conducted. Twenty high quality studies were selected. The effect size estimation was calculated.


The random-effects model showed a high overall effect size for both limbic and frontal sites. Data analyses showed greater brain activity in the left amygdala and insular cortex in phobic individuals. We also observed an activation of the fusiform gyrus, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex left, and the left cingulate cortex, although these areas were less frequently involved. Healthy controls showed high heterogeneity in the brain areas activated by phobic stimuli.


These findings suggest the possible existence of a double processing pathway in phobic stimuli: a rapid processing pathway involving limbic areas and a slow pathway involving both limbic and frontal areas.

Specific phobias, Neuroimaging, fMRI, Meta-analysis
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