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Working memory load elicits attentional bias to threat

Booth, Robert and Sharma, Dinkar (2014) Working memory load elicits attentional bias to threat. In: Kaniasty, K. and Moore, K. and Howard, S. and Buchwald, P., eds. Stress and anxiety: Applications to social and environmental threats, psychological well-being, occupational challenges, and developmental psychology. Logos Verlag, pp. 149-157. ISBN 978-3-8325-3720-3. (KAR id:48300)

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Anxious individuals tend to show attentional bias to threats and dangers; this is usually in-terpreted as a specific bias in threat-processing. However, they also tend to show general working memory and cognitive control impairments. We hypothesised that the lack of work-ing memory resources might contribute to attentional bias, by limiting anxious individuals’ ability to regulate their responses to emotional stimuli. If this is true, then loading working memory should elicit attentional bias to threat, even in non-anxious participants. We tested this hypothesis in two experiments, with participants unselected for anxiety. In Experiment 1, a phonological working memory load (remembering a string of digits) elicited an attentional bias to fear-conditioned Japanese words. In Experiment 2, a visuo-spatial working memory load (remembering a series of locations in a matrix of squares) elicited an attentional bias to emotional schematic faces. Results suggest that working memory and cognitive control may moderate the attentional bias to threat commonly observed in anxiety.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Dinkar Sharma
Date Deposited: 08 May 2015 13:21 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:24 UTC
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Sharma, Dinkar:
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