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Papers: 20 Jan 2024 - 26 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 18

Biol Psychol


The impact of attention bias modification training on behavioral and physiological responses.


Ranfaing S, De Zorzi L, Ruyffelaere R, Honoré J, Critchley H, Sequeira H


Attention bias modification training aims to alter attentional deployment to symptom-relevant emotionally salient stimuli. Such training has therapeutic applications in the management of disorders including anxiety, depression, addiction and chronic pain. In emotional reactions, attentional biases interact with autonomically-mediated changes in bodily arousal putatively underpinning affective feeling states. Here we examined the impact of attention bias modification training on behavioral and autonomic reactivity. Fifty-eight participants were divided into two groups. A training group (TR) received attention bias modification training to enhance attention to pleasant visual information, while a control group (CT) performed a procedure that did not modify attentional bias. After training, participants performed an evaluation task in which pairs of emotional and neutral images (unpleasant-neutral, pleasant-neutral, neutral-neutral) were presented, while behavioral (eye movements) and autonomic (skin conductance; heart rate) responses were recorded. At the behavioral level, trained participants were faster to orientate attention to pleasant images, and slower to orientate to unpleasant images. At the autonomic level, trained participants showed attenuated skin conductance responses to unpleasant images, while stronger skin conductance responses were generally associated with higher anxiety. These data argue for the use of attentional training to address both the attentional and the physiological sides of emotional responses, appropriate for anxious and depressive symptomatology, characterized by atypical attentional deployment and autonomic reactivity.