Fearful attention: Investigating event-related potentials in spider phobia
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Previous studies showed that emotional pictures capture attention. Further, this effect was decreased by manipulating spatial attention. In contrast, studies produced mixed findings for effects of perceptual load on attention to emotional pictures. Emotional pictures can be phobic or nonphobic. Because phobia might be an evolutionary adaption, it is possible that effects of phobic pictures on attention differ from effects of nonphobic emotional pictures. The present thesis aimed at investigating attention in spider phobia. Attention to emotional pictures was operationalized as event-related potentials (ERPs) (P1, early posterior negativity [EPN,] and late positive potential [LPP]). Two research questions were formulated. First, do phobic pictures evoke larger ERPs than what can be expected from arousal and valence? Second, are effects of spatial attention and perceptual load on ERPs the same for phobic and nonphobic emotional pictures? To investigate this, phobic and nonphobic negative pictures were presented to spider phobic and nonphobic participants. To determine effects of spatial attention on ERPs, participants were instructed to divert attention to a single letter that was presented in the periphery. To determine effects of perceptual load on ERPs, participants were instructed to perform a letter discrimination task on one, two, or three letters that were presented in the periphery. Study 1 showed enhanced LPP amplitudes to phobic pictures independent of arousal and valence. Further, this effect was present in both phobic and nonphobic participants. Study 2 showed that there was no effect of perceptual load on LPP to phobic pictures. Study 3 showed that spatial attention reduced LPP amplitudes, and to a similar extent for both phobic and nonphobic pictures. Further, perceptual load did not reduce EPN or LPP amplitudes to either phobic or nonphobic pictures. To conclude, the results suggest that phobic pictures evoke larger ERP amplitudes than nonphobic pictures. Still, ERPs to phobic and nonphobic pictures are moderated similarly by spatial attention and perceptual load.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2012. , 48 p.
attention, phobia, event-related potential
Research subject Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83688ISBN: 978-91-7447-620-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83688DiVA: diva2:576589
2013-01-18, David Magnussonsalen (U31), hus 8, Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Schupp, Harald, professor
Wiens, Stefan, professorPersson, Jonas, docent
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.2012-12-272012-12-132012-12-27Bibliographically approved
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