Association of Predeployment Gaze Bias for Emotion Stimuli With Later Symptoms of PTSD and Depression in Soldiers Deployed in Iraq

Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 12.3). 03/2011; 168(7):735-41. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.10091309
Source: PubMed


Biased processing of emotion stimuli is thought to confer vulnerability to psychopathology, but few longitudinal studies of this link have been conducted. The authors examined the relationship between predeployment gaze bias for emotion stimuli and later symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in soldiers deployed to Iraq.
An eye-tracking paradigm was used to assess line of gaze in 139 soldiers while they viewed a two-by-two matrix of fearful, sad, happy, and neutral facial expressions before they were deployed to Iraq. Once they were deployed, the soldiers periodically reported on their levels of war zone stress exposure and symptoms of PTSD and depression.
War zone stress exposure predicted higher scores on PTSD and depression symptom measures; however, eye gaze bias moderated this relationship. In soldiers with war zone stress exposure, shorter mean fixation time when viewing fearful faces predicted higher PTSD symptom scores, and greater total fixation time and longer mean fixation time for sad faces predicted higher depressive symptom scores.
Biased processing of emotion stimuli, as measured by gaze bias, appears to confer vulnerability to symptoms of PTSD and depression in soldiers who experience war zone stress.

Download full-text


Available from: Michael J Telch, Oct 02, 2015
1 Follower
37 Reads
  • Source
    • "In contrast, whereas depressed individuals do not differ from controls in initial orienting of attention, they do exhibit biases in sustained attention, specifically increased sustained attention to depression-relevant stimuli and decreased sustained attention to positive stimuli [Armstrong and Olatunji, 2012]. In addition, one study found that biases in sustained attention to sad faces during a passive viewing task assessed in soldiers prior to deployment to Iraq moderated the impact of war zone stress on prospective increases in depressive symptoms [Beevers et al., 2011a]. Specifically, greater attention to sad faces during the passive viewing task (total fixation time, longer mean fixation time, number of fixations) predicted greater increases in depressive symptoms among those soldiers exposed to higher levels of war zone stress. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Biased attention to emotional stimuli plays a key role in the RDoC constructs of Sustained Threat and Loss. In this article, we review approaches to assessing these biases, their links with psychopathology, and the underlying neural influences. We then review evidence from twin and candidate gene studies regarding genetic influences on attentional biases. We also discuss the impact of developmental and environmental influences and end with a number of suggestions for future research in this area. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 09/2015; DOI:10.1002/ajmg.b.32383 · 3.42 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "These deficits may handicap the performance of this network and, therefore , negatively impact vulnerable individuals' ability to regulate negative information during a stage of development when this skill becomes increasingly important (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1994; Cyranowski et al., 2000; Hankin and Abramson, 2001). Indeed, cognitive models of depression suggest that over time such difficulties may confer vulnerability for the onset of depression, particularly in the context of stressful life events (Beevers et al., 2011). These findings are also in line with evidence of behavioral deficits in cognitive control over emotional information in this population. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Adolescent women with a parental history of depression are at high risk for the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD). Cognitive theories suggest this vulnerability involves deficits in cognitive control over emotional information. Among adolescent women with and without a parental history of depression, we examined differences in connectivity using resting state functional connectivity analysis within a network associated with cognitive control over emotional information. Twenty-four depression-naïve adolescent women underwent resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They were assigned to high-risk (n=11) and low-risk (n=13) groups based their parents' depression history. Seed based functional connectivity analysis was used to examine group differences in connectivity within a network associated with cognitive control. High-risk adolescents had lower levels of connectivity between a right inferior prefrontal region and other critical nodes of the attention control network, including right middle frontal gyrus and right supramarginal gyrus. Further, greater severity of the parents' worst episode of depression was associated with altered cognitive control network connectivity in their adolescent daughters. Depressed parents may transmit depression vulnerability to their adolescent daughters via alterations in functional connectivity within neural circuits that underlie cognitive control of emotional information.
    11/2013; 7C:13-22. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2013.10.008
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent research suggests that an attentional bias toward threat may play a causal role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with contamination concerns. However, the attentional components involved in this bias, as well as its behavioral correlates, remain unclear. In the present study, eye movements were recorded in individuals high and low in contamination fear (HCF, LCF, respectively) during 30-s exposures to stimulus arrays containing contamination threat, general threat, pleasant, and neutral images. HCF individuals oriented gaze toward contamination threat more often than LCF individuals in initial fixations, and this bias mediated group differences in responding to a behavioral challenge in a public restroom. No group differences were found in the maintenance of gaze on contamination threat, both in terms of initial gaze encounters, as well as gaze duration over time. However, the HCF group made shorter fixations on contamination threat relative to other image types. The implications of these findings for further delineating the nature and function of attentional biases in contamination-based OCD are discussed.
    Journal of Abnormal Psychology 06/2011; 121(1):232-7. DOI:10.1037/a0024453 · 4.86 Impact Factor
Show more