Date of Award

7-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

Program

Other

Program

Psychological Science

First Advisor/Chairperson

Joshua Carlson

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are among one of the most debilitating and prevalent mental disorders. Maladaptive anxiety has been associated with enhanced attention bias to threat as well as heightened error-monitoring following an erroneous response. In an effort to reduce an anxious individual’s attention bias to threat, an attention training paradigm known as attention bias modification (ABM) was developed. While ABM training has demonstrated the ability to reduce attention bias and anxiety symptoms, there are inconsistencies in the magnitude of symptom reduction and there is a lack of neuroimaging support in regards to ABM outcome. Therefore, this study evaluated the outcome of ABM training using error-related negativity (ERN) an event-related potential (ERP) that is associated with an error-monitoring response after an individual commits an error. To elicit an erroneous response a modified flanker task paradigm was used. The ERN has the potential to be used as a measure of ABM outcome due to the common neural structures that both processes recruit – in particular, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The results demonstrate no reduction in anxiety following ABM, but reductions in attention bias in both the ABM and control groups. There were also no significant relationships between ERN and ABM outcome, suggesting that ERN is not an effective measure of functional outcome. Limitations and future directions involving multi-session ABM and functional outcomes are discussed.

Access Type

Open Access

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