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Attention bias toward threat in pediatric anxiety disorders

By Amy Krain Roy, Roma A. Vasa, Maggie Bruck, Karin Mogg, Brendan P. Bradley, Michael Sweeney, R. Lindsey Bergman, Erin B. McClure-Tone, Daniel S. Pine and CAMS Team


Objective: to examine attention bias towards threat faces in a large sample of anxiety-disordered<br/>youths using a well-established visual probe task.<br/><br/>Method: study participants included 101 children and adolescents (ages 7- 18 years) with<br/>generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and/or separation anxiety disorder enrolled in a multisite<br/>anxiety treatment study. Non-anxious youths (n = 51; ages 9 - 18 years) were recruited separately.<br/>Participants were administered a computerized visual probe task that presents pairs of faces<br/>portraying threat (angry), positive (happy) and neutral expressions. They pressed a response-key to<br/>indicate the spatial location of a probe that replaced one of the faces on each trial. Attention bias<br/>scores were calculated from response times to probes for each emotional face type.<br/><br/>Results: compared to healthy youths, anxious participants demonstrated a greater attention bias<br/>towards threat faces. This threat bias in anxious patients did not significantly vary across the anxiety<br/>disorders. There was no group difference in attention bias towards happy faces.<br/><br/>Conclusions: these results suggest that pediatric anxiety disorders are associated with an<br/>attention bias towards threat. Future research might examine the manner in which cognitive bias in<br/>anxious youth changes with treatment

Topics: BF
Year: 2008
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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