One of the studies reported by Dr. Gillath involved fMRI studies on the brains of individuals as they were asked to “imagine” a variety of situations that increased from neutral to high anxiety. For example, they were asked to imagine five different situations in sequence, to think about one situation for two minutes and then stop thinking about it for two minutes before moving on to the next situation). The situations were:
- A neutral driving experience
- A relatively neutral experience with their partner or best friend such as grocery shopping
- An experience where they argues or fought with their partner
- An experience of seeing their partner packing preparatory to leaving the relationship
- An experience where the police came with information that their partner had just been killed
Researchers noted what portions of the brain were activated in each situation.