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01-10-2009 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2009

Cognitive Therapy and Research 5/2009

Emotion Congruent Facilitation of Attention when Processing Anxious Stimuli

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 5/2009
Chad M. Lystad, Paul D. Rokke, Daniel M. Stout
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Portions of this manuscript were presented at the 41st Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2007, Philadelphia, PA.


Researchers using spatial attention tasks have shown that anxious individuals are quick to orient to threatening information, but have difficulty disengaging attention from that location. We extended this line of research by investigating the influence of anxiety on attention across time rather than space. It was found that anxious words imbedded in a rapidly presented stream of distractors were correctly identified more often than neutral words, regardless of the emotional state of the participant. Having identified the first target in the stream, participants were able to detect a second target sooner when the first target was an anxious word and the participant was experiencing anxiety in comparison to conditions in which the first target was neutral or the participant was not anxious. The rapid recovery of the attentional system when there was emotional congruence between the state of the individual and the attended information, points to the unique influence that anxiety has on attention across time in comparison to its influence on spatial attention.

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