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ERP correlates of attentional processing in spider fear: evidence of threat-specific hypervigilance


Venetacci, R and Johnstone, A and Kirkby, KC and Matthews, A, ERP correlates of attentional processing in spider fear: evidence of threat-specific hypervigilance, Cognition and Emotion, 32, (3) pp. 437-449. ISSN 0269-9931 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 Informa UK Limited

DOI: doi:10.1080/02699931.2017.1310717


Attentional bias towards threat can be demonstrated by enhanced processing of threat-related targets and/or greater interference when threat-related distractors are present. These effects are argued to reflect processing within the orienting and executive control networks of the brain respectively. This study investigated behavioural (RT) and electrophysiological correlates of early selective attention and top-down attentional control among females with high (n = 16) or low (n = 16) spider fear (Mean age = 22 years). Participants completed a novel flanker go/nogo task in which a central schematic flower or spider stimulus was flanked by either congruent or incongruent distractors. Participants responded to green stimuli (go trials) and withheld response to yellow stimuli (nogo trials). High fear participants demonstrated significantly shorter reaction times and greater P1 amplitude to spider targets, suggesting specific hypervigilance towards threat-relevant stimuli. In contrast to predictions, there was little evidence for behavioural interference effects or differences in N2 amplitude when distractor stimuli were threat-relevant.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:spider fear, ERPs, attentional bias, flanker, P1, N2
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Applied and developmental psychology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Johnstone, A (Miss Amber Johnstone)
UTAS Author:Kirkby, KC (Professor Kenneth Kirkby)
UTAS Author:Matthews, A (Dr Allison Matthews)
ID Code:115893
Year Published:2018 (online first 2017)
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-04-19
Last Modified:2018-08-13

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