Article

Anticipation-specific reliability and trial-to-trial carryover of anticipatory attentional bias for threat

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Abstract

Concerns have been raised about the reliability of dot-probe tasks. The cued Visual Probe Task (cVPT) uses cues predicting locations of emotional stimuli, which appears to improve reliability. However, cVPT reliability could be affected by individual differences involving cue features. Here, we assessed specifically anticipatory reliability. Further, trial-to-trial carryover effects, previously found for stimulus-evoked biases, were tested. 82 participants were analysed, who performed an online procedure including a reversal of the cue mapping. Predicted stimulus categories were neutral and angry faces. Cue-Stimulus Intervals of 400 and 1000 ms were used. An overall anticipatory attentional bias, in terms of RT difference scores, towards threat was found. Reliability was around .4, similar to previous results despite the mapping reversal procedure. Carryover effects were found with a similar pattern as for non-cued threat-evoked bias. The results confirm a reasonably reliable outcome-focused bias towards threat, showing similar carryover effects as found for stimulus-evoked bias.

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... Further, potentially complex reactions to the actual presentation of stimuli are avoided (Noël et al., 2006;Vollstädt-Klein, Loeber, von der Goltz, Mann, & Kiefer, 2009). However, there is a problem: individual differences merely involving the visual features of the predictive cues could potentially affect reliability (Gladwin, Figner, & Vink, 2019). If an individual has a systematic bias involving these features, this would increase split-half reliability regardless of outcomerelated processes. ...
... The results thus imply that the bias is not merely a consequence of conscious awareness or preference. Results clearly diverge from results for threat stimuli, when reliability survived reversal (Gladwin, Figner, et al., 2019). ...
... This suggests that processes related to risky drinking are reflected in one particular cue acquiring salience due to its prediction of alcohol-related stimuli. Alcohol-related anticipatory attentional bias thus appears to involve different processes than threatrelated anticipatory attentional bias, which does appear to reflect processing related to the predicted outcomes rather than the acquisition of salience by a particular cue (Gladwin, Figner, et al., 2019;Gladwin, Möbius, et al., 2019). ...
Article
Temporary free access: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1aDWt_6zzLsDQX Previous studies suggest that cues predicting the outcome of attentional shifts provide a measure of anticipatory alcohol-related attentional bias that is correlated with risky drinking and has high reliability. However, this is complicated by potential contributions of visual features of cues to reliability, unrelated to their predictive value. Further, little is known of the sensitivity of the bias to variations in cue-outcome mapping manipulations, limiting our theoretical and methodological knowledge: Does the bias robustly follow varying cue-outcome mappings, or are there automatic cue-related associative processes involved? The current studies aimed to address these issues. Participants performed variations of the cued Visual Probe Task (cVPT) in which cues were non-predictive; in which there were multiple cue pairs, used simultaneously and serially; and in which the cue-outcome mapping was reversed. The major findings were, first, that previously found reliability cannot be attributed to aspects of the cues not related to outcome-prediction; second, that reliability of the bias does not survive deviations from a simple, consistent cue-outcome mapping; third, that all predictive versions of the task showed a bias towards alcohol; fourth, that the bias did not simply follow awareness of the cue-outcome mapping; and finally, that only in the case of simultaneous multiple cue pairs, an association with risky drinking was replicated. The results provide support for the reliability of the anticipatory attentional bias for alcohol, suggest that relatively persistent associative processes underlie the bias in the alcohol context, and provide a foundation for future work using the cVPT.
... A high reliability of around 0.75 was found for an alcohol-related anticipatory attentional bias (Gladwin, 2019), which could not be explained merely by individual differences involving cue features not related to their predictive value (Gladwin et al., 2019a); and which furthermore has shown correlations with risky drinking (Gladwin, 2019;Gladwin & Vink, 2018). An overall bias towards threat has been found which had relatively good reliability compared to the stimulus-evoked bias (Gladwin, Möbius, Mcloughlin, and Tyndall, 2019c) and was robust to reversing the specific cues' predictive value (Gladwin, Figner, & Vink, 2019b), but not as highin the range of 0.4 to 0.56 -as for alcohol-related bias. This may be due to use of multiple cue-probe intervals in previous work, reducing the number of trials per interval and possibly introducing a source of noise. ...
... The primary aim of the current study was therefore to assess the reliability of the threat-related bias using a single cue- T.E. Gladwin and M. Vink Consciousness and Cognition 81 (2020) 102930 probe interval and twice the number of assessment trials as in a previous study (Gladwin et al., 2019b). This effectively increased the number of trials used to calculate the bias by a factor of four. ...
... Importantly, however, the bias does seem to involve processes related to the predicted outcomes of attentional shifts rather than merely the conditioned cues (Gladwin, Möbius, Mcloughlin, and Tyndall, 2019c). Further, reliability does not appear to be due to systematic attentional preferences involving the cues themselves, as reversing the cue-outcome mapping did not strongly diminish the expected reliability in previous work (Gladwin et al., 2019b) and cues with a randomized relationship to subsequent stimuli did not result in high reliability in the context of alcohol (Gladwin, Banic, Figner, and Vink, 2019a). Further, from the perspective of task features, the use of predictive cues may also increase reliability due to the removal of trial-to-trial noise present in usual spatial attentional bias tasks due to the particular combination of stimulus exemplars used as cues on each trial. ...
Article
Cues that predict the future location of emotional stimuli may evoke an anticipatory form of automatic attentional bias. The reliability of this bias towards threat is uncertain: experimental design may need to be optimized or individual differences may simply be relatively noisy in the general population. The current study therefore aimed to determine the split-half reliability of the bias, in a design with fewer factors and more trials than in previous work. A sample of 63 participants was used for analysis, who performed the cued Visual Probe Task online, which aims to measure an anticipatory attentional bias. The overall bias towards threat was tested and split-half reliability was calculated over even and odd blocks. Results showed a significant bias towards threat and a reliability of around 0.7. The results support systematic individual differences in anticipatory attentional bias and demonstrate that RT-based bias scores, with online data collection, can be reliable.
... Threat-related bias measures via the predVPT indeed showed relatively good split-half reliability compared to an equivalent dot-probe task (Gladwin, Möbius, Mcloughlin, & Tyndall, 2019); when the task design was optimized and trial numbers were increased, reliability reached psychometrically adequate levels for both threat-related bias, 0.70 and alcohol-related bias, 0.74 (Gladwin, 2019). Further studies addressed the concern that systematic between-subject variance associated with individual differences related to the visual characteristics of the predictive cues might account for the high reliability Gladwin, Figner, & Vink, 2019). An attentional bias modification training study using a training variant of the predVPT supported the interpretation that the bias involved anticipatory processes rather than merely conditioning of the initially neutral cues . ...
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... This model evolved from earlier dual-system models of distinct impulsive versus reflective processes or systems and subsequent criticisms of such models (Keren and Schul, 2009;Pfeifer and Allen, 2012). One important element of the model is its emphasis on how executive functions must be selected based on emotionally relevant J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f outcomes predicted due to prior learning experiences provided by the individual's environment (Gladwin et al., 2019). Further, reflective processing and self-regulation are argued to emerge as a function of time -in the sense of the hundreds of milliseconds following a stimulus -due to the different temporal dynamics of different cognitive processes involved in (cognitive) response selection, rather than there being a separation and competition between sets of reflective and impulsive processes or brain regions. ...
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Recent research has suggested that anxiety may be associated with processing biases that favor the encoding of emotionally threatening information. However, the available data can be accommodated by alternative explanations, including response bias accounts. The current study introduces a novel paradigm that circumvents such interpretative problems by requiring subjects to make a neutral response (button press) to a neutral stimulus (visual dot probe). The position of this dot probe was manipulted on a VDU (visual display unit) screen relative to visually displayed words, which could either be threat related or neutral in content. Probe detection latency data were then used to determine the impact of threat-related stimuli on the distribution of visual attention. Clinically anxious (but not clinically depressed) subjects consistently shifted attention toward threat words, resulting in reduced detection latencies for probes appearing in the vicinity of such stimuli. Normal control subjects, on the other hand, tended to shift attention away from such material. The results were interpreted as supporting the existence of anxiety-related encoding bias, and it is suggested that this cognitive mechanism may contribute to the maintenance of such mood disorders.
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Previous research has shown an attentional bias toward drug-related stimuli in opiate addicts and toward emotionally threatening words in anxiety patients. The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether non-dependent heavy social drinkers would differ in their selective attention towards alcohol-related stimuli in comparison with a group of occasional social drinkers. Attentional bias was assessed using alcohol-related pictures and words in a dot probe detection task. Picture and word pairs were visually presented, followed by a dot probe that replaced one of the items. Attentional bias was determined from latencies in responding to the dot probe. Questionnaires were used to examine the relationships among attention, outcome expectancies after alcohol consumption, and personality traits. Higher-order executive function was also measured with two cognitive tasks, recognition memory and attentional shift. The heavy social drinkers showed an attentional bias towards the alcohol-related stimuli when compared to the occasional social drinkers. The heavy social drinkers also scored more highly on expectancy factors of sociability and sexuality and lower on the personality traits of self-directedness and persistence. Conclusion: The results support cognitive theories of addictive behaviour in which the ability of drug-related stimuli to capture attention is suggested to play a part in drug dependence, craving and relapse.
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Visual Probe Tasks (VPTs) have been extensively used to measure spatial attentional biases, but as usually analysed, VPTs do not consider trial-to-trial carryover effects of probe location: Does responding to a probe on, e.g., the location of a threat cue affect the bias on the subsequent trial? The aim of the current study was to confirm whether this kind of carryover exists, using a novel task version, the diagonalized VPT, designed to focus on such trial-to-trial interactions. Two versions of the task were performed by a sample of college students. In one version cues were coloured squares; in the other, cues were threat-related and neutral images. Both versions included partially random positive or negative response feedback and varying Cue-Probe Intervals (200 or 600 ms). Carryover effects were found in both versions. Responding to a probe at the location of a cue of a given colour induced an attentional bias on the subsequent trial in the direction of that colour. Responding to a threat-related cue induced an attentional bias towards threat on the subsequent trial. The results provide evidence that trial-to-trial carryover effects on spatial attentional bias indeed exist. A methodological implication is that previous probe location could be considered in analyses or re-analyses of spatial visual attention tasks.
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There is substantial evidence that heightened anxiety vulnerability is characterized by increased selective attention to threatening information. The reliability of this anxiety-linked attentional bias has become the focus of considerable recent interest. We distinguish between the potential inconsistency of anxiety-linked attentional bias and inconsistency potentially reflecting the psychometric properties of the assessment approaches used to measure it. Though groups with heightened anxiety vulnerability often exhibit, on average, elevated attention to threat, the evidence suggests that individuals are unlikely to each display a stable, invariant attentional bias to threat. Moreover, although existing assessment approaches can differentiate between groups, they do not exhibit the internal consistency or test-retest reliability necessary to classify individuals in terms of their characteristic pattern of attentional responding to threat. We discuss the appropriate uses of existing attentional bias assessment tasks and propose strategies for enhancing classification of individuals in terms of their tendency to display an attentional bias to threat. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology Volume 15 is May 7, 2019. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
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Beginning in the 1980s, experimental psychopathologists increasingly adapted the concepts and paradigms of cognitive science to elucidate information-processing abnormalities that may figure in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Assessment and modification of attentional biases for threat has been a major theme in this research program. The field has witnessed the development of progressively more sophisticated approaches for isolating attentional processes from other cognitive processes in the service of accurate assessment and treatment. Yet the field is now in crisis as foundational concerns about the reliability of basic measures of attentional bias for threat (ABT) have emerged. Moreover, recent research points to theoretical revisions deemphasizing ABT as a stable, near-universal feature of anxiety disorders, and stressing deficits in executive control as the primary attentional problem linked to anxiety.
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Dot‐probe or visual probe tasks (VPTs) are used extensively to measure attentional biases. A novel variant termed the cued VPT (cVPT) was developed to focus on the anticipatory component of attentional bias. This study aimed to establish an anticipatory attentional bias to threat using the cVPT and compare its split‐half reliability with a typical dot‐probe task. A total of 120 students performed the cVPT task and dot‐probe tasks. Essentially, the cVPT uses cues that predict the location of pictorial threatening stimuli, but on trials on which probe stimuli are presented the pictures do not appear. Hence, actual presentation of emotional stimuli did not affect responses. The reliability of the cVPT was higher at most cue–stimulus intervals and was .56 overall. A clear anticipatory attentional bias was found. In conclusion, the cVPT may be of methodological and theoretical interest. Using visually neutral predictive cues may remove sources of noise that negatively impact reliability. Predictive cues are able to bias response selection, suggesting a role of predicted outcomes in automatic processes.
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Dot-Probe or Visual Probe Tasks (VPTs) are used extensively to measure attentional biases. A novel variant termed the cued VPT (cVPT) was developed to focus on the anticipatory component of attentional bias. The current study aimed to establish an anticipatory attentional bias to threat using the cVPT and compare its split-half reliability with a typical Dot-Probe task. 120 students performed the cVPT task and Dot-Probe tasks. Essentially, the cVPT uses cues that predict the location of pictorial threatening stimuli, but on trials on which probe stimuli are presented the pictures do not appear. Hence, actual presentation of emotional stimuli did not affect responses. The reliability of the cVPT was higher at most Cue-Stimulus Intervals, and was .56 overall. A clear anticipatory attentional bias was found. In conclusion, the cVPT may be of methodological and theoretical interest. Using visually neutral predictive cues may remove sources of noise that negatively impact reliability. Predictive cues are able to bias response selection, suggesting a role of predicted outcomes in automatic processes.
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Whether attention can influence afferent information processing in primary visual cortex (V1) has long been topic of scientific debate. Findings from a recent study by Baumgarter et al. (this issue) add to this debate by providing a null replication of an influential study that reported that spatial attention can enhance feedforward information processing in human V1, as reflected in the amplitude of the C1 ERP component (Kelly, Gomez-Raminez, & Foxe, 2008). Here we discuss several factors, including analytic approach, experimental design, and motivational factors, that, once scientifically tested, may help resolve discrepancies in the current literature. © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
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Research on automatic attention to emotional faces offers mixed results. Therefore we examined validity effects for facial expressions of different emotions (compared to neutral faces) with a dot-probe paradigm in seven studies (total N = 308). Systematic variations of type of emotion, CTI, task, cue size, and masking allow for a differentiated assessment of attentional capture by emotions and possible moderating factors. Results indicate a general absence of emotional validity effects as well as a lack of significant interactions with either of the manipulated factors, indicating that facial expressions of emotions do not capture attention in a fully automatic fashion. These findings suggest that situational and contextual factors have to be taken into account when investigating attentional capture of emotional faces.
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Alcohol use is associated with attentional biases for alcohol-related stimuli, as it has been measured via effects on mean performance measures in dot-probe tasks. However, the variability of attentional biases may contain essential information related to behavior and symptoms. Bias variability refers to short-time scale fluctuation in bias to and from salient stimuli, measurable within the duration of a task. The first aim of the current study was to relate attentional bias variability for alcohol cues to risky drinking behavior. The second aim was to explore a conditioned-cue version of the dot probe in which arbitrary cues signaled the location of subsequent alcoholic or nonalcoholic pictorial cues, which was designed to avoid sources of interference that could play a role in the normal dot probe. Results showed strong associations between measures of attentional bias variability and drinking behavior. Effects in the conditioned cues version of the task were weaker and appeared to require a longer training period. Nevertheless, heavier drinkers tended to respond too late to probes appearing at locations of cues predicting the appearance of nonalcohol stimuli. This suggests that predictive cues can capture an aspect of attentional processes related to alcohol use. The results indicate that attentional bias variability is worth studying further. It may be fruitful for theory and future research to focus on fluctuations in attention rather than consistent tendencies toward or away from alcohol. The potential use of predictive cues remains uncertain. Such designs may require relatively long training periods but could prove methodologically and theoretically useful.
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Current models of SAD assume that attentional processes play a pivotal role in the etiology and maintenance of social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety is supposedly associated with an attentional bias towards disorder related stimuli such as threatening faces. Using the facial dot probe task in socially anxious individuals has, however, revealed inconsistent findings. The current systematic review aims at disentangling the heterogeneous findings using effect sizes across results by systematically taking into account potential moderating variables (stimulus type, stimulus duration, situational anxiety, disorder severity). Results provide some evidence that socially anxious individuals preferentially allocate their attention towards threat faces compared to non-anxious controls. This bias seems to depend on the type of reference stimulus, stimulus duration and clinical level of social anxiety. Avoidance of threat was neither found at early, nor at later stages of attentional processing. Importantly, the results have to be considered in the light of the only few studies available. Given the heterogeneity of results and some methodological restrictions of the studies included, the picture of attentional bias seems to be much less clear than suggested in the recent social anxiety literature. Methodologically, combined measures of dot-probe and eye movement measures might be beneficial to detect overt attentional biases. Importantly, our results show that preferential processing of threat cues might guide early attentional processes in social anxiety, depending however on several contextual and situational factors. Clinically, patients with greater severity of SAD may be more prone to such an attentional bias, thus therapists should take this into account when planning behavioral experiments and exposure therapy. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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A wealth of research demonstrates attentional biases toward threat in the anxiety disorders. Several models have been advanced to explain these biases in anxiety, yet the mechanisms comprising and mediating the biases remain unclear. In the present article, we review evidence regarding the mechanisms of attentional biases through careful examination of the components of attentional bias, the mechanisms underlying these components, and the stage of information processing during which the biases occur. Facilitated attention, difficulty in disengagement, and attentional avoidance comprise the components of attentional bias. A threat detection mechanism likely underlies facilitated attention, a process that may be neurally centered around the amygdala. Attentional control ability likely underlies difficulty in disengagement, emotion regulation goals likely underlie attentional avoidance, and both of these processes may be neurally centered around prefrontal cortex functioning. The threat detection mechanism may be a mostly automatic process, attentional avoidance may be a mostly strategic process, and difficulty in disengagement may be a mixture of automatic and strategic processing. Recommendations for future research are discussed.
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Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in attentional bias in addiction, particularly its clinical relevance. Specifically, numerous articles claimed to demonstrate either that (1) attentional bias measured in treatment settings could predict subsequent relapse to substance use, or (2) direct modification of attentional bias reduced substance use and improved treatment outcomes. In this paper, we critically evaluate empirical studies that investigated these issues. We show that the evidence regarding both of these claims is decidedly mixed, and that many of the studies that appear to yield positive findings have serious methodological and statistical limitations. We contend that the available literature suggests that attentional bias for drug cues fluctuates within individuals because it is an output of the underlying motivational state at that moment in time, but there is no convincing evidence that it exerts a causal influence on substance use. Future research should make use of experience sampling methodology to characterise the clinical significance of fluctuations in attentional bias over time. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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Three studies investigated whether individuals preferentially allocate attention to the spatial location of threatening faces presented outside awareness. Pairs of face stimuli were briefly displayed and masked in a modified version of the dot-probe task. Each face pair consisted of an emotional (threat or happy) and neutral face. The hypothesis that preattentive processing of threat results in attention being oriented towards its location was supported in Experiments 1 and 3. In both studies, this effect was most apparent in the left visual field, suggestive of right hemisphere involvement. However, in Experiment 2 where awareness of the faces was less restricted (i.e. marginal threshold conditions), preattentive capture of attention by threat was not evident. There was evidence from Experiment 3 that the tendency to orient attention towards masked threat faces was greater in high than low trait anxious individuals.
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Cognitive theories implicate information-processing biases in the etiology of anxiety disorders. Results of attention-bias studies in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been inconsistent, suggesting biases towards and away from threat. Within-subject variability of attention biases in posttraumatic patients may be a useful marker for attentional control impairment and the development of posttrauma symptoms. This study reports 2 experiments investigating threat-related attention biases, mood and anxiety symptoms, and attention-bias variability following trauma. Experiment 1 included 3 groups in a cross-sectional design: (a) PTSD, (b) trauma-exposed without PTSD, and (c) healthy controls with no trauma or Axis I diagnoses. Greater attention-bias variability was found in the PTSD group compared to the other 2 groups ; attention-bias variability was significantly and positively correlated (r = .37) with PTSD symptoms. Experiment 2 evaluated combat-exposed and nonexposed soldiers before and during deployment. Attention-bias variability did not differentiate groups before deployment, but did differentiate groups during deployment ; increased variability was observed in groups with acute posttraumatic stress symptoms and acute depression symptoms only. Attention-bias variability could be a useful marker for attentional impairment related to threat cues associated with mood and anxiety symptoms after trauma exposure.
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A variety of methodological paradigms, including dot probe and eye movement tasks, have been used to examine attentional biases to threat in anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, little attention has been devoted to the psychometric properties of measures from these paradigms. In the current study, participants selected for high and low social anxiety completed a dot probe and eye movement task using angry, disgust and happy facial expressions paired with neutral expressions. Results indicated that dot probe bias scores, eye movement first fixation indices, and eye movement proportions of viewing time in the first 1,500 ms had unacceptably low reliability. However, eye movement indices of attentional bias over the full 5,000 ms time course had excellent reliability. Individuals’ dot probe and eye movement biases were largely uncorrelated across the two tasks and demonstrated little relation with social anxiety scores. Implications for future research are discussed.
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Behavioural and neurological research suggests that emotional (relative to neutral) faces are more visually salient, with preferential access to awareness, for example in overcoming binocular rivalry suppression. However, it is difficult to determine to what extent such effects result simply from low-level characteristics as opposed to the emotional content of the face per se. Although spatial inversion has been used to control for low-level image characteristics, the extent to which inversion disrupts emotion processing is unclear. We applied both spatial inversion and luminance reversal to fear, happy, angry and neutral faces. These manipulations retained the contrast, mean luminance and spatial frequency profiles of the images but combining them made the emotion impossible to categorise. Observers viewed the normal and the manipulated images under continuous flash suppression: a single face was presented to one eye and high contrast dynamic noise to the other. Fear faces emerged from suppression (i.e. became visible) faster than the other three expressions. However, this pattern was equally apparent for the original and the manipulated faces. The properties that lead to the unconscious prioritisation of fearful faces are thus fully contained in unrecognisable images that share the same low-level visual characteristics. Our findings suggest that some emotion-specific effects may be driven entirely by low-level stimulus characteristics.
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The dot probe task is a widely used measure of attention allocation to threatening stimuli. The present two studies examine the reliability of different versions of this task using words as well as pictures as stimulus material. Estimates of both internal consistency and retest reliability over one week lead to the conclusion that the dot probe task is a completely unreliable measure of attentional allocation in non-clinical samples. This unreliability may explain the inconsistent findings for the dot probe task as reported in the literature. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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An impressive array of neural processing appears to be dedicated to the extraction of reward-related information from environmental stimuli and use of this information in the generation of goal-directed behaviors. While other structures are certainly involved in these processes, the characteristics of activations seen in mesencephalic dopamine neurons, striatal neurons and neurons of the orbitofrontal cortex provide distinct examples of the different ways in which reward-related information is processed. In addition, the differences in activations seen in these three regions demonstrate the different roles they may play in goal-directed behavior.
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The likelihood of initiating addictive behaviors is higher during adolescence than during any other developmental period. The differential developmental trajectories of brain regions involved in motivation and control processes may lead to adolescents' increased risk taking in general, which may be exacerbated by the neural consequences of drug use. Neuroimaging studies suggest that increased risk-taking behavior in adolescence is related to an imbalance between prefrontal cortical regions, associated with executive functions, and subcortical brain regions related to affect and motivation. Dual-process models of addictive behaviors are similarly concerned with difficulties in controlling abnormally strong motivational processes. We acknowledge concerns raised about dual-process models, but argue that they can be addressed by carefully considering levels of description: motivational processes and top-down biasing can be understood as intertwined, co-developing components of more versus less reflective states of processing. We illustrate this with a model that further emphasizes temporal dynamics. Finally, behavioral interventions for addiction are discussed. Insights in the development of control and motivation may help to better understand - and more efficiently intervene in - vulnerabilities involving control and motivation.
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Unlabelled: In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgment of the need for psychometric data regarding the dot-probe paradigm. The aim of the present study was to provide some data on the psychometric properties of the dot-probe paradigm in the context of pain-related research. Using the data of a large pain-free sample and a large chronic pain sample, the present study examined the psychometric properties of a picture- and word-based dot-probe task. It also examined the data of idiosyncratically selected stimuli designed to be relevant to each participant and compared this with the data of neutral stimuli and nonsalient pain-related stimuli. Poor levels of internal consistency (α range: -.44 to .28; split-half r range: -.35 to .11) and test-retest reliability (r range: -.14 to .13) were found among the pain-free sample, irrespective of the task used or the stimuli used. There was limited evidence of comparability between the 2 tasks among the chronic pain sample (r range: -.08 to .26) and similarly poor levels of internal-consistency (α range: -.56 to .17; split-half r range: -.20 to .25). The findings of the present study therefore suggest that psychometric issues may be important to pain-related attentional bias research. More research is, however, undoubtedly needed. Perspective: The aim of the present study was to provide data regarding the psychometric properties of the dot-probe paradigm within the specific context of pain-related attentional bias research. The findings of this study suggest that psychometric issues may be an important consideration in pain-related attentional biases research.
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There is growing interest in cognitive biases related to substance use, but evidence from the anxiety literature suggests that tasks commonly used to assess these may suffer from low internal reliability. We examined the internal reliability of the visual probe and modified Stroop tasks. Secondary analysis of visual probe and modified Stroop task data collected across seven independent studies. Human laboratory study. Healthy volunteers (n=408 across seven independent studies) recruited from the general population on the basis of alcohol or tobacco use. Visual probe and modified Stroop task measures of substance-related cognitive bias. Measures of cognitive bias for substance-related cues, as assayed by the visual probe and the modified Stroop tasks, may not be reliable. In particular, the visual probe task showed poor internal reliability, as did unblocked versions of the modified Stroop task. The modified Stroop task is preferable to the visual probe task as a measure of substance-related cognitive bias, on the basis of its psychometric properties. Studies using cognitive bias tasks should not assume they are reliable, and should routinely report reliability estimates where possible.
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Research suggests that threatening information captures attention more rapidly than neutral information. However, in most studies threat stimuli differ perceptually from neutral stimuli and are instrumental to perform the task, leaving the question unanswered whether threat is sufficient to capture attention. In experiment 1, we designed a visual search task with stimuli of equal salience (colored circles) that have the potential to lead to efficient search (10 ms/item). In experiment 2, one of the colors (conditioned stimulus, CS+) was made threatening by means of fear conditioning. Participants responded to a target presented in one of the circles. Overall, the search was faster on congruent trials (where the target was presented in the CS+) than on baseline trials (where the CS + was absent). Furthermore, the search was slower on incongruent trials (where the target was presented in another color than the CS+) than on baseline trials. The search on congruent trials was affected by set size (90 ms/item), but to a lesser extent than on baseline trials (105 ms/item). We conclude that threat prioritizes, but does not capture attention.
Article
The aim of this study was to analyse initial orienting processes as well as maintenance of attention towards alcohol cues in recently detoxified alcoholics and light social drinkers. Furthermore, we investigated the influence of pre-treatment alcohol consumption and abstinence duration onto alcohol-related attentional bias. We used an alcohol-visual-dot-probe-task with two different stimulus onset asynchronies (SOA) to examine processes of initial orienting and maintenance of attention separately (50 and 500 ms SOA). With short SOA, we found a positive attentional bias towards alcohol cues in alcohol-dependent patients and light social drinkers that was positively associated with pre-treatment alcohol consumption in alcoholics. Using a longer SOA, a negative attentional bias was found in light social drinkers and in patients abstinent for more than 2 weeks indicating alcohol stimuli avoidance. In patients, we found a negative correlation between attentional bias and duration of abstinence. After initial visual orienting towards alcohol-related stimuli, light social drinkers as well as longer abstinent alcohol-dependent patients disengage their attention. In patients, this disengagement increased during the first 3 weeks after detoxification indicating assimilation to the attentional bias pattern of light social drinkers.
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Multielectrode recordings were performed in a variety of structures of structures of the mammalian brain in order to examine temporal relations among simultaneously measured neuronal responses. Data indicate close correlations between perceptual phenomena and zero-time lag synchronization of distributed neuronal discharges.
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Our neurophysiological model of anticipatory behaviour (e.g. Acta Psychol 101 (1999) 213; Bastiaansen et al., 1999a) predicts an activation of (primary) sensory cortex during anticipatory attention for an upcoming stimulus. In this paper we attempt to demonstrate this by means of event-related desynchronization (ERD). Five subjects performed a time estimation task, and were informed about the quality of their time estimation by either visual or auditory stimuli providing Knowledge of Results (KR). EEG and MEG were recorded in separate sessions, and ERD was computed in the 8-10 and 10-12 Hz frequency bands for both datasets. Both in the EEG and the MEG we found an occipitally maximal ERD preceding the visual KR for all subjects. Preceding the auditory KR, no ERD was present in the EEG, whereas in the MEG we found an ERD over the temporal cortex in two of the 5 subjects. These subjects were also found to have higher levels of absolute power over temporal recording sites in the MEG than the other subjects, which we consider to be an indication of the presence of a 'tau' rhythm (e.g. Neurosci Lett 222 (1997) 111). It is concluded that the results are in line with the predictions of our neurophysiological model.
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This paper addresses the question of whether anticipatory attention--i.e. attention directed towards an upcoming stimulus in order to facilitate its processing--is realized at the neurophysiological level by a pre-stimulus desynchronization of the sensory cortex corresponding to the modality of the anticipated stimulus, reflecting the opening of a thalamocortical gate in the relevant sensory modality. It is argued that a technique called Event-Related Desynchronization (ERD) of rhythmic 10-Hz activity is well suited to study the thalamocortical processes that are thought to mediate anticipatory attention. In a series of experiments, ERD was computed on EEG and MEG data, recorded while subjects performed a time estimation task and were informed about the quality of their time estimation by stimuli providing Knowledge of Results (KR). The modality of the KR stimuli (auditory, visual, or somatosensory) was manipulated both within and between experiments. The results indicate to varying degrees that preceding the presentation of the KR stimuli, ERD is present over the sensory cortex, which corresponds to the modality of the KR stimulus. The general pattern of results supports the notion that a thalamocortical gating mechanism forms the neurophysiological basis of anticipatory attention. Furthermore, the results support the notion that Event-Related Potential (ERP) and ERD measures reflect fundamentally different neurophysiological processes.