2,163 research outputs found

    Watch Out for the Beast: Fear Information and Attentional Bias in Children

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    Although valenced information about novel animals changes the implicit and explicit fear beliefs of children (Field & Lawson, 2003), how it might lead to anxiety is unknown. One possibility, based on cognitive models of anxiety, is that fear information creates attentional biases similar to those seen in anxiety disorders. Children between 7 and 9 years old were given positive information about 1 novel animal, negative information about another, and no information about the 3rd. A pictorial dot-probe task was used, immediately or with a 24-hr delay, to test for attentional biases to the different animals. The results replicated the finding that fear information changes children's fear beliefs. Regardless of whether there was a delay, children acquired an attentional bias in the left visual field toward the animal about which they held negative beliefs compared to the control animal. These results imply a possible way in which fear information might contribute to acquired fear

    Facial expressions depicting compassionate and critical emotions: the development and validation of a new emotional face stimulus set

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    Attachment with altruistic others requires the ability to appropriately process affiliative and kind facial cues. Yet there is no stimulus set available to investigate such processes. Here, we developed a stimulus set depicting compassionate and critical facial expressions, and validated its effectiveness using well-established visual-probe methodology. In Study 1, 62 participants rated photographs of actors displaying compassionate/kind and critical faces on strength of emotion type. This produced a new stimulus set based on N = 31 actors, whose facial expressions were reliably distinguished as compassionate, critical and neutral. In Study 2, 70 participants completed a visual-probe task measuring attentional orientation to critical and compassionate/kind faces. This revealed that participants lower in self-criticism demonstrated enhanced attention to compassionate/kind faces whereas those higher in self-criticism showed no bias. To sum, the new stimulus set produced interpretable findings using visual-probe methodology and is the first to include higher order, complex positive affect displays

    Neural Correlates of Treatment in Adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Preliminary Investigation

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    Objective: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a prevalent and debilitating psychiatric condition in adolescence. Two effective forms of treatment are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This pilot study examined changes in brain function following each type of treatment in GAD. Method: Subjects were 14 youth with GAD (7 had CBT, 7 received fluoxetine) and 10 age- and gender-matched healthy peers. FMRI scans were acquired before and after treatment for patients, and over two comparable time points for controls. During fMRI acquisition, a probe detection task with emotional (angry, happy) and neutral faces allowed for assessment of neural response to threat. Following previous research, region of interest analyses were performed in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). Results: FMRI results showed increased VLPFC activation, relative to controls, in the medication (t(15) = 3.01, p \u3c 0.01) and CBT (t(15) = 3.22, p \u3c 0.01) groups following treatment. Conclusions: This study shows significant increase in VLPFC activation in response to angry faces following treatment with CBT or fluoxetine for GAD. This is consistent with previous research indicating that the VLPFC may facilitate effective responding to underlying neural correlates of anxiety in other brain regions, such as the amygdala

    Amygdala and Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Activation to Masked Angry Faces in Children and Adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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    1. Context. Vigilance to threat is a key feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex comprise a neural circuit that is responsible for detection of threats. Disturbed interactions between these structures may underlie pediatric anxiety. To date, no study has selectively examined responses to briefly-presented threats (e.g. less than 50 msec) in GAD or in pediatric anxiety. 2. Objective. To investigate amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation during processing of briefly-presented threats in pediatric GAD. 3. Design. Case-control study. 4. Setting. Government clinical research institute. 5. Participants. Youth volunteers, 17 with GAD and 12 diagnosis-free. 6. Main Outcome Measures. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure blood oxygenation level-dependent signal. During imaging, subjects performed an attention orienting task with rapidly presented (17 msec), masked emotional (angry or happy) and neutral faces. 7. Results. When viewing masked angry faces, GAD youth, relative to comparison subjects, showed greater right amygdala activation that positively correlates with anxiety disorder severity. Moreover, in a functional connectivity (psychophysiological interaction) analysis, right amygdala and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex showed strong negative coupling specifically to masked angry faces. This negative coupling tended to be weaker in GAD youth than in comparisons. Conclusions. GAD youth have hyper-activation of the amygdala to briefly-presented, masked threats. The presence of threat-related negative connectivity between the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and amygdala suggests that the prefrontal cortex modulates amygdala response to threat. In pediatric GAD, hyper-amygdala response occurs in the absence of a compensatory increase in modulation by ventrolateral prefrontal cortex

    Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Activation and Attentional Bias in Response to Angry Faces in Adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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    Objective: While adolescent anxiety disorders represent prevalent, debilitating conditions, few studies explore their brain physiology. Using event-related functional MRI (fMRI) and a behavioral measure of attention to angry faces, we evaluated differences in response between healthy adolescents and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Method: In the primary trials of interest, 18 adolescents with GAD and 15 comparisons of equivalent age/gender/IQ viewed angry/neutral face pairs during fMRI acquisition. Following the presentation of each face pair, subjects pressed a button to a probe that was either on the same (congruent) or opposite (incongruent) side as the angry face. Reaction time differences between congruent and incongruent face-trials provided a measure of attention bias to angry faces. Results: Relative to controls, patients with GAD manifested greater right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) activation to trials containing angry faces. Compared with controls, patients with GAD also showed greater attentional bias away from angry faces. VLPFC activation differences were independent of differences in attentional bias. Conclusions: Adolescents with GAD show greater right VLPFC activation and attentional bias away from angry faces than controls. Enhanced VLPFC engagement may directly relate to anxiety, or may regulate abnormal functioning in another region

    Neural correlates of enhanced visual short-term memory for angry faces: An fMRI study

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    Copyright: © 2008 Jackson et al.Background: Fluid and effective social communication requires that both face identity and emotional expression information are encoded and maintained in visual short-term memory (VSTM) to enable a coherent, ongoing picture of the world and its players. This appears to be of particular evolutionary importance when confronted with potentially threatening displays of emotion - previous research has shown better VSTM for angry versus happy or neutral face identities.Methodology/Principal Findings: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, here we investigated the neural correlates of this angry face benefit in VSTM. Participants were shown between one and four to-be-remembered angry, happy, or neutral faces, and after a short retention delay they stated whether a single probe face had been present or not in the previous display. All faces in any one display expressed the same emotion, and the task required memory for face identity. We find enhanced VSTM for angry face identities and describe the right hemisphere brain network underpinning this effect, which involves the globus pallidus, superior temporal sulcus, and frontal lobe. Increased activity in the globus pallidus was significantly correlated with the angry benefit in VSTM. Areas modulated by emotion were distinct from those modulated by memory load.Conclusions/Significance: Our results provide evidence for a key role of the basal ganglia as an interface between emotion and cognition, supported by a frontal, temporal, and occipital network.The authors were supported by a Wellcome Trust grant (grant number 077185/Z/05/Z) and by BBSRC (UK) grant BBS/B/16178

    Attention bias for food is independent of restraint in healthy weight individuals—An eye tracking study.

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    a b s t r a c t a r t i c l e i n f o Objective: Restrained eating style and weight status are highly correlated. Though both have been associated with an attentional bias for food cues, in prior research restraint and BMI were often confounded. The aim of the present study was to determine the existence and nature of an attention bias for food cues in healthy-weight female restrained and unrestrained eaters, when matching the two groups on BMI. Method: Attention biases for food cues were measured by recordings of eye movements during a visual probe task with pictorial food versus non-food stimuli. Healthy weight high restrained (n = 24) and low restrained eaters (n = 21) were matched on BMI in an attempt to unconfound the effects of restraint and weight on attention allocation patterns. Results: All participants showed elevated attention biases for food stimuli in comparison to neutral stimuli, independent of restraint status. Discussion: These findings suggest that attention biases for food-related cues are common for healthy weight women and show that restrained eating (per se) is not related to biased processing of food stimuli, at least not in healthy weight participants

    Mindfulness-based interventions for people diagnosed with a current episode of an anxiety or depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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    Objective Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can reduce risk of depressive relapse for people with a history of recurrent depression who are currently well. However, the cognitive, affective and motivational features of depression and anxiety might render MBIs ineffective for people experiencing current symptoms. This paper presents a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of MBIs where participants met diagnostic criteria for a current episode of an anxiety or depressive disorder. Method Post-intervention between-group Hedges g effect sizes were calculated using a random effects model. Moderator analyses of primary diagnosis, intervention type and control condition were conducted and publication bias was assessed. Results Twelve studies met inclusion criteria (n = 578). There were significant post-intervention between-group benefits of MBIs relative to control conditions on primary symptom severity (Hedges g = −0.59, 95% CI = −0.12 to −1.06). Effects were demonstrated for depressive symptom severity (Hedges g = −0.73, 95% CI = −0.09 to −1.36), but not for anxiety symptom severity (Hedges g = −0.55, 95% CI = 0.09 to −1.18), for RCTs with an inactive control (Hedges g = −1.03, 95% CI = −0.40 to −1.66), but not where there was an active control (Hedges g = 0.03, 95% CI = 0.54 to −0.48) and effects were found for MBCT (Hedges g = −0.39, 95% CI = −0.15 to −0.63) but not for MBSR (Hedges g = −0.75, 95% CI = 0.31 to −1.81). Conclusions This is the first meta-analysis of RCTs of MBIs where all studies included only participants who were diagnosed with a current episode of a depressive or anxiety disorder. Effects of MBIs on primary symptom severity were found for people with a current depressive disorder and it is recommended that MBIs might be considered as an intervention for this population

    Social Anxiety Modulates Subliminal Affective Priming

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    BACKGROUND: It is well established that there is anxiety-related variation between observers in the very earliest, pre-attentive stage of visual processing of images such as emotionally expressive faces, often leading to enhanced attention to threat in a variety of disorders and traits. Whether there is also variation in early-stage affective (i.e. valenced) responses resulting from such images, however, is not yet known. The present study used the subliminal affective priming paradigm to investigate whether people varying in trait social anxiety also differ in their affective responses to very briefly presented, emotionally expressive face images. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Participants (n = 67) completed a subliminal affective priming task, in which briefly presented and smiling, neutral and angry faces were shown for 10 ms durations (below objective and subjective thresholds for visual discrimination), and immediately followed by a randomly selected Chinese character mask (2000 ms). Ratings of participants' liking for each Chinese character indicated the degree of valenced affective response made to the unseen emotive images. Participants' ratings of their liking for the Chinese characters were significantly influenced by the type of face image preceding them, with smiling faces generating more positive ratings than neutral and angry ones (F(2,128) = 3.107, p<0.05). Self-reported social anxiety was positively correlated with ratings of smiling relative to neutral-face primed characters (Pearson's r = .323, p<0.01). Individual variation in self-reported mood awareness was not associated with ratings. CONCLUSIONS: Trait social anxiety is associated with individual variation in affective responding, even in response to the earliest, pre-attentive stage of visual image processing. However, the fact that these priming effects are limited to smiling and not angry (i.e. threatening) images leads us to propose that the pre-attentive processes involved in generating the subliminal affective priming effect may be different from those that generate attentional biases in anxious individuals

    Investigating hyper-vigilance for social threat of lonely children

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    The hypothesis that lonely children show hypervigilance for social threat was examined in a series of three studies that employed different methods including advanced eye-tracking technology. Hypervigilance for social threat was operationalized as hostility to ambiguously motivated social exclusion in a variation of the hostile attribution paradigm (Study 1), scores on the Children’s Rejection-Sensitivity Questionnaire (Study 2), and visual attention to socially rejecting stimuli (Study 3). The participants were 185 children (11 years-7 months to 12 years-6 months), 248 children (9 years-4 months to 11 years-8 months) and 140 children (8 years-10 months to 12 years-10 months) in the three studies, respectively. Regression analyses showed that, with depressive symptoms covaried, there were quadratic relations between loneliness and these different measures of hypervigilance to social threat. As hypothesized, only children in the upper range of loneliness demonstrated elevated hostility to ambiguously motivated social exclusion, higher scores on the rejection sensitivity questionnaire, and disengagement difficulties when viewing socially rejecting stimuli. We found that very lonely children are hypersensitive to social threat
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