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Emotion. 2013 Jun;13(3):520-8. doi: 10.1037/a0031236. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

There's more to anxiety than meets the eye: isolating threat-related attentional engagement and disengagement biases.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. gsheppes@gmail.com

Abstract

Threat-related attentional biases represent a basic survival mechanism. These biases include an engagement bias involving rapid direction of attention toward threat and a disengagement bias involving slow direction of attention away from threat. The exact nature of these biases in healthy and anxious individuals remains controversial because of the challenges associated with accurately isolating each of these attentional biases. Combining a cognitive attentional task with classical conditioning using electric stimulation, we created a new paradigm that makes it possible to more clearly isolate these attentional biases. Utilizing this novel paradigm, we detected both types of attentional bias and differentiated between levels of trait anxiety, in which low- and high-trait anxiety individuals showed equal levels of engagement bias, but only high-trait anxiety individuals showed impaired disengagement from threat.

PMID:
23356563
DOI:
10.1037/a0031236
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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