Date of Award
Benjamin L. Hankin, Ph.D.
Anxiety, Cognitive control, Depression, Emotional distress
Biased attention for salient negative emotional stimuli is a proposed cognitive mechanism of internalizing disorders, namely depression and anxiety. Previous studies have demonstrated biases in bottom-up, stimulus-driven attentional systems, as well as top-down, goal-oriented attentional systems, in the context of negative emotion. However, the underlying cognitive mechanisms that drive these biases, such as attentional control deficits, are not well understood. Furthermore, given the high degree of conceptual and empirical overlap between depression and anxiety, it is unclear how biased attention might relate to constructs common across both disorders, such as general distress, versus what is specific to each disorder. The current study utilized an emotional adaptation of the Antisaccade Task with eye-tracking to precisely and accurately tease apart components of attentional control, including inhibition and shifting, in the context of social threat (i.e., anger) in a community sample of youth and young adults (ages 13-22; N = 80). Findings show that difficulty inhibiting attention for social threat is associated with symptoms of general distress, which are shared across depression and anxiety, as well as symptoms of physiological hyperarousal that are specific to anxiety. Overall, findings further clarify what specific components of attentional control deficits underlie biased attentional processing, a well-established cognitive mechanism of internalizing disorders.
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Gulley, Lauren Darlene, "Biased Attentional Processing for Negative Emotion and Youth Internalizing Psychopathology: The Role of Attentional Control Deficits" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1325.
Received from ProQuest
Lauren Darlene Gulley