Disengaging of Attention in Clinical Anxiety
Katie Sheehan, Rebecca Chandler and Jenny Yiend
Previous research using attentional tasks has revealed an anxiety-related bias favouring threatening over neutral material. This bias has been reliably demonstrated in both subclinically anxious normals and clinically anxious patients in over a decade of research. Recent work has sought to delineate the attentional mechanisms responsible by using a location cueing paradigm to explore the spatial properties of attentional biases. These studies have lead to the conclusion that attentional bias involves a specific difficulty in disengaging attention from the location of a potential threat. This finding has yet to be generalized to a clinical population however. To do so is important, both to extend our basic understanding of attentional processes in anxiety disorder, and to inform the development of treatments based on attentional training procedures. The project currently underway explores the spatial components of attentional orienting towards threat in patients suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder using the paradigm just described
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the project is to explore the components of spatial attentional orienting involved in the processing of threatening material in patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The objectives are to address the following points:
Does delayed disengagement from threat, already reported in subclinically anxious individuals, extend to a clinically anxious sample?
In addition to disengagement effects, are there also specific, clinical anxiety-related effects on the engagement of spatial attention to threat?