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Behavioural and ERP correlates of hypervigilance and inhibitory control in spider fear

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Williams, ME 2016 , 'Behavioural and ERP correlates of hypervigilance and inhibitory control in spider fear', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Attentional biases to threat are thought to arise from anxiety promoting automatic attentional processing in the form of hypervigilance, while disrupting voluntary attentional processes such as inhibitory control. There is little support for the latter in specific fear. The current study examined behavioural (RT and accuracy) and electrophysiological correlates of hypervigilance (P1 amplitude) and inhibitory control (N2 amplitude) in 15 high and 15 low spider fear females aged 18-40 years using a modified flanker go nogo task with increased cognitive load. Spider or flower go targets were flanked by incongruent images or neutral dashes. A central mushroom appeared on nogo trials, and could be flanked by either spider or flowers. High fears did not show faster RTs and greater P1 amplitude in response to spider targets as hypothesised, with both groups showing greater RTs to spider targets, and low fears demonstrating reduced P1 amplitude in the left hemisphere. Contrary to predictions, there was no fear-specific behavioural interference or reduced nogo-N2 amplitude in high fears, but they did show increased N2 amplitude on trials with spider flankers. This may suggest a compensatory inhibitory mechanism in response to feared stimuli. However, the current paradigm may not have adequately elicited automatic attentional processing or fear responses.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Williams, ME
Keywords: spider fear, hypervigilance, inhibitory control, attentional bias, specific fear, orienting, executive control attentional network
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Copyright 2016 the author

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