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Attentional control in subclinical anxiety and depression: depression symptoms are associated with deficits in target facilitation, not distractor inhibition

Pike, A; Printzlau, F; von Lautz, AH; Harmer, CJ; Stokes, MG; Noonan, MP; (2020) Attentional control in subclinical anxiety and depression: depression symptoms are associated with deficits in target facilitation, not distractor inhibition. Frontiers in Psychology , 11 , Article 1660. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01660. Green open access

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Abstract

Mood and anxiety disorders are associated with deficits in attentional control involving emotive and non-emotive stimuli. Current theories focus on impaired attentional inhibition of distracting stimuli in producing these deficits. However, standard attention tasks struggle to separate distractor inhibition from target facilitation. Here, we investigate whether distractor inhibition underlies these deficits using neutral stimuli in a behavioral task specifically designed to tease apart these two attentional processes. Healthy participants performed a four-location Posner cueing paradigm and completed self-report questionnaires measuring depressive symptoms and trait anxiety. Using regression analyses, we found no relationship between distractor inhibition and mood symptoms or trait anxiety. However, we find a relationship between target facilitation and depression. Specifically, higher depressive symptoms were associated with reduced target facilitation in a task-version in which the target location repeated over a block of trials. We suggest this may relate to findings previously linking depression with deficits in predictive coding in clinical populations.

Type: Article
Title: Attentional control in subclinical anxiety and depression: depression symptoms are associated with deficits in target facilitation, not distractor inhibition
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01660
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01660
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101677
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