Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Psychiatry Res. 2014 Oct 30;219(2):329-35. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.05.042. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Snake fearfulness is associated with sustained competitive biases to visual snake features: hypervigilance without avoidance.

Author information

1
Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention, University of Florida, PO Box 112766, Gainesville, FL 32611, United States of America. Electronic address: mmcginnis@ufl.edu.
2
Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention, University of Florida, PO Box 112766, Gainesville, FL 32611, United States of America.
3
School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
4
Institute of Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

The extent and time course of competition between a specific fear cue and task-related stimuli in early human visual cortex was investigated using electrophysiology. Steady-state visual evoked potentials (ssVEPs) were evoked using random-dot kinematograms that consisted of rapidly flickering (8.57 Hz) dots moving randomly, superimposed upon emotional or neutral distractor pictures. Participants were asked to detect intervals of coherently moving dots, ignoring the distractor pictures that varied in hedonic content. Women reporting high or low levels of snake fear were recruited from a large sample of healthy college students, and snake pictures served as fear-relevant distractors. The time-varying amplitude of the ssVEP evoked by the motion detection task showed significant reduction when viewing emotionally arousing, compared to neutral, distractors, replicating previous studies. For high-fear participants, snake distractors elicited a sustained attenuation of task evoked ssVEP amplitude, greater than the attenuation prompted by other unpleasant arousing content. These findings support a hypothesis that fear cues prompt sustained hypervigilance rather than perceptual avoidance.

KEYWORDS:

Attention; EEG; Emotion; Fear; ssVEP

PMID:
24930577
PMCID:
PMC4130295
DOI:
10.1016/j.psychres.2014.05.042
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center