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Behavioural and neural correlates of orienting and executive control in high and low spider fear groups


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Flynn, SF 2015 , 'Behavioural and neural correlates of orienting and executive control in high and low spider fear groups', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Research suggests that attentional bias to threat in specific fear can be demonstrated as facilitated orienting effects such as the rapid automatic detection and processing of threat-related information, and/or interference effects thought to be associated with impaired executive control processes such as the inhibition of task-irrelevant information. This study examined the influence of spider fear on the behavioural (RT and accuracy) and electrophysiological correlates (P1 and N1) of facilitated orienting and executive control. Twenty-six female participants (15 high-fear, 11 low-fear) completed a novel attentional networks test consisting of an alerting condition (present/absent), a pictorial (spider/cow) orienting cue (valid/invalid), and a central target flanked by distractors (congruent/incongruent). In relation to facilitated orienting, no between-group differences were observed, suggesting that greater levels of cognitive load increased interference effects, thus masking the facilitation effect for high-fear participants. Partial support for predictions of behavioural interference effects were observed. This finding was further supported by evidence of attenuated P1 and enhanced N1 amplitude for high-fear participants for incongruent targets preceded by spider images, however these effects were modulated by interactions between the attentional networks. This is a novel finding but is consistent with a complex and interactive attentional networks model.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Flynn, SF
Keywords: Attention Network Test, attentional networks, emotion regulation, P1, N1
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