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ERP correlates of attentional processing in spider fear: evidence of threat-specific hypervigilance

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 03:52 authored by Venetacci, R, Johnstone, ASV, Kenneth KirkbyKenneth Kirkby, Allison MatthewsAllison Matthews
Attentional bias towards threat can be demonstrated by enhanced processing of threat-related targets and/or greater interference when threat-related distractors are present. These effects are argued to reflect processing within the orienting and executive control networks of the brain respectively. This study investigated behavioural (RT) and electrophysiological correlates of early selective attention and top-down attentional control among females with high (n = 16) or low (n = 16) spider fear (Mean age = 22 years). Participants completed a novel flanker go/nogo task in which a central schematic flower or spider stimulus was flanked by either congruent or incongruent distractors. Participants responded to green stimuli (go trials) and withheld response to yellow stimuli (nogo trials). High fear participants demonstrated significantly shorter reaction times and greater P1 amplitude to spider targets, suggesting specific hypervigilance towards threat-relevant stimuli. In contrast to predictions, there was little evidence for behavioural interference effects or differences in N2 amplitude when distractor stimuli were threat-relevant.


Publication title

Cognition and Emotion








School of Psychological Sciences


Psychology Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Informa UK Limited

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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