Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Threat bias in attention orienting: evidence of specificity in a large community-based study

  • G. A. Salum (a1) (a2), K. Mogg (a3), B. P. Bradley (a3), A. Gadelha (a1) (a4), P. Pan (a1) (a4), A. C. Tamanaha (a1) (a4), T. Moriyama (a1) (a4) (a5), A. S. Graeff-Martins (a1) (a4) (a5), R. B. Jarros (a2), G. Polanczyk (a1) (a5), M. C. do Rosário (a1) (a4), E. Leibenluft (a6), L. A. Rohde (a1) (a2) (a5), G. G. Manfro (a1) (a2) and D. S. Pine (a6)...
Abstract
Background

Preliminary research implicates threat-related attention biases in paediatric anxiety disorders. However, major questions exist concerning diagnostic specificity, effects of symptom-severity levels, and threat-stimulus exposure durations in attention paradigms. This study examines these issues in a large, community school-based sample.

Method

A total of 2046 children (ages 6–12 years) were assessed using the Development and Well Being Assessment (DAWBA), Childhood Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and dot-probe tasks. Children were classified based on presence or absence of ‘fear-related’ disorders, ‘distress-related’ disorders, and behavioural disorders. Two dot-probe tasks, which differed in stimulus exposure, assessed attention biases for happy-face and threat-face cues. The main analysis included 1774 children.

Results

For attention bias scores, a three-way interaction emerged among face-cue emotional valence, diagnostic group, and internalizing symptom severity (F = 2.87, p < 0.05). This interaction reflected different associations between internalizing symptom severity and threat-related attention bias across diagnostic groups. In children with no diagnosis (n = 1411, mean difference = 11.03, s.e. = 3.47, df = 1, p < 0.001) and those with distress-related disorders (n = 66, mean difference = 10.63, s.e. = 5.24, df = 1, p < 0.05), high internalizing symptoms predicted vigilance towards threat. However, in children with fear-related disorders (n = 86, mean difference = −11.90, s.e. = 5.94, df = 1, p < 0.05), high internalizing symptoms predicted an opposite tendency, manifesting as greater bias away from threat. These associations did not emerge in the behaviour-disorder group (n = 211).

Conclusions

The association between internalizing symptoms and biased orienting varies with the nature of developmental psychopathology. Both the form and severity of psychopathology moderates threat-related attention biases in children.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr G. A. Salum Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, room 2202, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 90035-003. (Email: gsalumjr@gmail.com)
References
Hide All
Bar-Haim, Y (2010). Research review: attention bias modification (ABM): a novel treatment for anxiety disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 51, 859870.
Bar-Haim, Y, Lamy, D, Pergamin, L, Bakermans-Kranenburg, MJ, van IJzendoorn, MH (2007). Threat-related attentional bias in anxious and nonanxious individuals: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Bulletin 133, 124.
Bar-Haim, Y, Morag, I, Glickman, S (2011). Training anxious children to disengage attention from threat: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 52, 861869.
Bittner, A, Egger, HL, Erkanli, A, Jane Costello, E, Foley, DL, Angold, A (2007). What do childhood anxiety disorders predict? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 48, 11741183.
Bradley, BP, Mogg, K, White, J, Groom, C, de Bono, J (1999). Attentional bias for emotional faces in generalized anxiety disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 38, 267278.
Dalgleish, T, Taghavi, R, Neshat-Doost, H, Moradi, A, Canterbury, R, Yule, W (2003). Patterns of processing bias for emotional information across clinical disorders: a comparison of attention, memory, and prospective cognition in children and adolescents with depression, generalized anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolesccent Psychology 32, 1021.
Fleitlich-Bilyk, B, Goodman, R (2004). Prevalence of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders in southeast Brazil. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolesccent Psychiatry 43, 727734.
Goodman, R, Ford, T, Richards, H, Gatward, R, Meltzer, H (2000). The Development and Well-Being Assessment: description and initial validation of an integrated assessment of child and adolescent psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 41, 645655.
Guyer, AE, McClure, EB, Adler, AD, Brotman, MA, Rich, BA, Kimes, AS, Pine, DS, Ernst, M, Leibenluft, E (2007). Specificity of facial expression labeling deficits in childhood psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 48, 863871.
Hakamata, Y, Lissek, S, Bar-Haim, Y, Britton, JC, Fox, NA, Leibenluft, E, Ernst, M, Pine, DS (2010). Attention bias modification treatment: a meta-analysis toward the establishment of novel treatment for anxiety. Biological Psychiatry 68, 982990.
Hallion, LS, Ruscio, AM (2011). A meta-analysis of the effect of cognitive bias modification on anxiety and depression. Psychological Bulletin 137, 940958.
Hankin, BL, Gibb, BE, Abela, Jr. Z, Flory, K (2010). Selective attention to affective stimuli and clinical depression among youths: role of anxiety and specificity of emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 119, 491501.
In-Albon, T, Kossowsky, J, Schneider, S (2010). Vigilance and avoidance of threat in the eye movements of children with separation anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 38, 225235.
Kendler, KS, Prescott, CA, Myers, J, Neale, MC (2003). The structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for common psychiatric and substance use disorders in men and women. Archives of General Psychiatry 60, 929937.
Kim-Cohen, J, Caspi, A, Moffitt, TE, Harrington, H, Milne, BJ, Poulton, R (2003). Prior juvenile diagnoses in adults with mental disorder: developmental follow-back of a prospective-longitudinal cohort. Archives of General Psychiatry 60, 709.
Krueger, RF (1999). The structure of common mental disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 56, 921926.
Lahey, BB, Van Hulle, CA, Singh, AL, Waldman, ID, Rathouz, PJ (2011). Higher-order genetic and environmental structure of prevalent forms of child and adolescent psychopathology. Archives of General Psychiatry 68, 181189.
Lonigan, CJ, Vasey, MW (2009). Negative affectivity, effortful control, and attention to threat-relevant stimuli. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 37, 387399.
Merikangas, KR, He, J-P, Burstein, M, Swanson, SA, Avenevoli, S, Cui, L, Benjet, C, Georgiades, K, Swendsen, J (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication – Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 49, 980989.
Mogg, K, Bradley, BP (1998). A cognitive-motivational analysis of anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy 36, 809848.
Mogg, K, Bradley, BP (1999). Some methodological issues in assessing attentional biases for threatening faces in anxiety: a replication study using a modified version of the probe detection task. Behaviour Research and Therapy 37, 595604.
Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, de Bono, J, Painter, M (1997). Time course of attentional bias for threat information in non-clinical anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy 35, 297303.
Mogg, K, Philippot, P, Bradley, BP (2004). Selective attention to angry faces in clinical social phobia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 113, 160165.
Monk, CS, Nelson, EE, McClure, EB, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Leibenluft, E, Blair, RJR, Chen, G, Charney, DS, Ernst, M, Pine, DS (2006). Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation and attentional bias in response to angry faces in adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 163, 10911097.
Monk, CS, Telzer, EH, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Mai, X, Louro, HMC, Chen, G, McClure-Tone, EB, Ernst, M, Pine, DS (2008). Amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation to masked angry faces in children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry 65, 568576.
Nelson, CA, Bloom, FE, Cameron, JL, Amaral, D, Dahl, RE, Pine, D (2002). An integrative, multidisciplinary approach to the study of brain-behavior relations in the context of typical and atypical development. Developmental Psychopathol 14, 499520.
Perez-Edgar, K, Bar-Haim, Y, McDermott, JM, Chronis-Tuscano, A, Pine, DS, Fox, NA (2010). Attention biases to threat and behavioral inhibition in early childhood shape adolescent social withdrawal. Emotion 10, 349357.
Petty, CR, Rosenbaum, JF, Hirshfeld-Becker, DR, Henin, A, Hubley, S, LaCasse, S, Faraone, SV, Biederman, J (2008). The child behavior checklist broad-band scales predict subsequent psychopathology: A 5-year follow-up. Journal of Anxiety Disorders 22, 532539.
Pine, DS, Cohen, P, Gurley, D, Brook, J, Ma, Y (1998). The risk for early-adulthood anxiety and depressive disorders in adolescents with anxiety and depressive disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 55, 5664.
Pine, DS, Helfinstein, SM, Bar-Haim, Y, Nelson, E, Fox, NA (2009). Challenges in developing novel treatments for childhood disorders: lessons from research on anxiety. Neuropsychopharmacology 34, 213228.
Pine, DS, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Montgomery, L, Monk, CS, McClure, E, Guyer, AE, Ernst, M, Charney, DS, Kaufman, J (2005). Attention bias to threat in maltreated children: implications for vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry 162, 291296.
Poustka, L, Maras, A, Hohm, E, Fellinger, J, Holtmann, M, Banaschewski, T, Lewicka, S, Schmidt, MH, Esser, G, Laucht, M (2010). Negative association between plasma cortisol levels and aggression in a high-risk community sample of adolescents. Journal of Neural Transmission 117, 621627.
Roy, AK, Vasa, RA, Bruck, M, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Sweeney, M, Bergman, RL, McClure-Tone, EB, Pine, DS, Team, C (2008). Attention bias toward threat in pediatric anxiety disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 47, 11891196.
Shechner, T, Britton, JC, Perez-Edgar, K, Bar-Haim, Y, Ernst, M, Fox, NA, Leibenluft, E, Pine, DS (2012). Attention biases, anxiety, and development: toward or away from threats or rewards? Depression & Anxiety 29, 282294.
Taghavi, MR, Dalgleish, T, Moradi, AR, Neshat-Doost, HT, Yule, W (2003). Selective processing of negative emotional information in children and adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 42, 221230.
Telzer, EH, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Mai, X, Ernst, M, Pine, DS, Monk, CS (2008). Relationship between trait anxiety, prefrontal cortex, and attention bias to angry faces in children and adolescents. Biological Psychology 79, 216222.
Trosper, SE, Whitton, SW, Brown, TA, Pincus, DB (2012). Understanding the latent structure of the emotional disorders in children and adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 40, 621632.
Vollebergh, WA, Iedema, J, Bijl, RV, de Graaf, R, Smit, F, Ormel, J (2001). The structure and stability of common mental disorders: the NEMESIS study. Archives of General Psychiatry 58, 597603.
Waters, AM, Henry, J, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Pine, DS (2010 a). Attentional bias towards angry faces in childhood anxiety disorders. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 41, 158164.
Waters, AM, Kokkoris, LL, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Pine, DS (2010 b). The time course of attentional bias for emotional faces in anxious children. Cognition & Emotion 24, 11731181.
Waters, AM, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP, Pine, DS (2008). Attentional bias for emotional faces in children with generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 47, 435442.
Waters, AM, Mogg, K, Bradley, BP (in press). Direction of threat attention bias predicts treatment outcome in anxious children receiving cognitive-behavioural therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy.
Watson, D (2005). Rethinking the mood and anxiety disorders: a quantitative hierarchical model for DSM-V. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 114, 522536.
Watson, D, O'Hara, MW, Stuart, S (2008). Hierarchical structures of affect and psychopathology and their implications for the classification of emotional disorders. Depression & Anxiety 25, 282288.
Watts, SE, Weems, CF (2006). Associations among selective attention, memory bias, cognitive errors and symptoms of anxiety in youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 34, 841852.
Williams, JMG, Watts, FN, MacLeod, C, Mathews, A (1997). Cognitive Psychology and Emotional Disorders. Wiley: Chichester, UK.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed