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    Anticipation of aversive threat potentiates task-irrelevant attentional capture

    Gutierrez, M. and Berggren, Nick (2020) Anticipation of aversive threat potentiates task-irrelevant attentional capture. Cognition and Emotion 34 (5), pp. 1036-1043. ISSN 0269-9931.

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    Anxiety is believed to have a disruptive effect on attentional control, supported by evidence of increased distractibility among high trait anxious individuals. However, how feelings of current anxious apprehension influence selective attention is less well-understood. The present study examined this by assessing attentional capture by a novel distractor within a visual search task. Participants searched an array of colored objects for a shape-defined target, while attempting to ignore a color singleton distractor presented on half of trials. To induce apprehension, participants completed the task in some blocks with a low probability threat of loud aversive sounds being presented. We found significantly increased distractibility within the threat condition when noise was anticipated but not played, as reflected by a larger distractor presence cost to reaction times. The finding that apprehension potentiates task-irrelevant attentional capture suggests a generalized role of anxious emotion in increasing distractibility.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Threat, Anxiety, Stress, Selective attention, top-down control
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Nick Berggren
    Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 10:36
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:56


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