Date of Award

8-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

Program

Psychology - General

First Advisor/Chairperson

Josh Carlson

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are currently one of the most predominant mental health conditions worldwide. Increased anxiety is associated with elevated attentional focus to threat also known as attentional bias to threat. Attention Bias Modification (ABM) is a type of computerized training, attempting to reduce attentional focus for threatening stimuli and has been found to successfully reduce symptoms of anxiety. Past studies have implemented ABM training as a possible tool to modulate attention away from threat in attempt to decrease pathological anxiety. The N2 is an event-related potential (ERP) detected in scalp EEG recordings that is associated with conflict monitoring and complex cognitive functioning. Past studies have found that anxious adults present increased N2’s during conflict processing, suggesting a relationship between hyperactive conflict monitoring and anxious symptomology. This thesis measured the effects of ABM on trait anxiety over a 6-week period. Each participant completed an attention bias task, questionnaires for anxiety and emotion related traits, as well as an EEG session (i.e., flanker task) pre and post the 6-week ABM training period. ABM training was administered through a modified dot-probe task; training attention away from threatening stimuli. The overall purpose of this thesis was to establish the effect of ABM (compared to control) training on ERP amplitudes and self-reported levels of anxiety. The results demonstrated a non-significant correlation between pre-trait anxiety scores and pre- ΔN2. Additionally, there was no significant effect of ABM on ΔN2 amplitudes or trait anxiety scores.

Access Type

Open Access

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