Selective processing of threat cues in anxiety states: a replication.
ABSTRACT A replication of Mathews and MacLeod's (Behav. Res. Ther. 23, 563-569, 1985) study, using a modified Stroop task, confirmed that threat words selectively interfere with the colour-naming performance of generally anxious patients, compared with normal controls. Clearer evidence was obtained of a highly specific interference effect of threat words that were congruent with the predominant worries reported by anxious patients. However, there was no evidence of a subsequent recognition memory bias for the threat words in anxious Ss. These results are discussed in relation to findings from other recent experiments investigating attentional and memory biases for threat-related information in anxiety states, and their implications for cognitive theories of anxiety are considered.
Article: Deficient prefrontal attentional control in late-life generalized anxiety disorder: an fMRI investigation.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Younger adults with anxiety disorders are known to show an attentional bias toward negative information. Little is known regarding the role of biased attention in anxious older adults, and even less is known about the neural substrates of any such bias. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to assess the mechanisms of attentional bias in late life by contrasting predictions of a top-down model emphasizing deficient prefrontal cortex (PFC) control and a bottom-up model emphasizing amygdalar hyperreactivity. In all, 16 older generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) patients (mean age=66 years) and 12 non-anxious controls (NACs; mean age=67 years) completed the emotional Stroop task to assess selective attention to negative words. Task-related fMRI data were concurrently acquired. Consistent with hypotheses, GAD participants were slower to identify the color of negative words relative to neutral, whereas NACs showed the opposite bias, responding more quickly to negative words. During negative words (in comparison with neutral), the NAC group showed PFC activations, coupled with deactivation of task-irrelevant emotional processing regions such as the amygdala and hippocampus. By contrast, GAD participants showed PFC decreases during negative words and no differences in amygdalar activity across word types. Across all participants, greater attentional bias toward negative words was correlated with decreased PFC recruitment. A significant positive correlation between attentional bias and amygdala activation was also present, but this relationship was mediated by PFC activity. These results are consistent with reduced prefrontal attentional control in late-life GAD. Strategies to enhance top-down attentional control may be particularly relevant in late-life GAD treatment.Translational psychiatry. 01/2011; 1:e46.
Article: Hypervigilance or avoidance of trigger related cues in migraineurs? - a case-control study using the emotional stroop task.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: "Negative affect" is one of the major migraine triggers. The aim of the study was to assess attentional biases for negative affective stimuli that might be related to migraine triggers in migraine patients with either few or frequent migraine and healthy controls. Thirty-three subjects with frequent migraine (FM) or with less frequent episodic migraine, and 20 healthy controls conducted two emotional Stroop tasks in the interictal period. In task 1, general affective words and in task 2, pictures of affective faces (angry, neutral, happy) were used. For each task we calculated two emotional Stroop indices. Groups were compared using one-way ANOVAs. The expected attentional bias in migraine patients was not found. However, in task 2 the controls showed a significant attentional bias to negative faces, whereas the FM group showed indices near zero. Thus, the FM group responded faster to negative than to positive stimuli. The difference between the groups was statistically significant. The findings in the FM group may reflect a learned avoidance mechanism away from affective migraine triggers.BMC Neurology 11/2011; 11:141. · 2.17 Impact Factor
Article: Processing bias and anxiety in primary school children: A modified emotional Stroop colour-naming task using pictorial facial expressions[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Three studies (Study I: N = 92, Study II: N = 63, Study III: N = 225) investigated the processing of threat-related information in non-clinical samples of young primary school children (aged 6 to 10 years) using a pictorial version of the modified emotional Stroop colour-naming task; the stimuli included threatening and happy facial expressions. The re-sults of these experiments showed that for young children it seems promising to explore error data in addition to colour-naming times. With regard to the number of errors, in Study I, high trait anxious children selectively had the highest error rates on threatening stimuli. Similarly, in Study II, state anxiety (worry) was associated with a differential bias for threat-related error rates. Thereby, class level moderated the association between colour-naming times and error data (Study III). The results are discussed with respect to the literature on anxiety-linked Stroop interference in children.Psychology Science. 01/2004; 46:451-465.