Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Psychological Science


Psychological Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Lin Fang


A growing number of studies have shown that cognitive biases are associated with the development and maintenance of depression and anxiety. Relative to healthy controls, individuals who are vulnerable for affective disorders prioritize their attentional focus on more negative stimuli and interpret ambiguous emotional information as more negative. A great effort has been dedicated in recent years to identifying the neural mechanisms of cognitive bias, especially attentional bias. However, studies examining how different types of cognitive biases are associated with each other and the neural mechanism of their interplay are still scarce. Therefore, in the current project, both measures of attentional bias and interpretation bias were included to assess the overlapping and distinct neural correlates. To provide a direct measure into an individual’s focus of attention, the study assessed attentional bias and interpretational bias with an eye tracking paradigm—the Scrambled Sentence Task. In this task, six words were presented on the screen in a single line. Participants were instructed to mentally unscramble the sentence to form a grammatically correct and meaningful statement using five of the six words as quickly as possible. Moreover, to investigate the neural mechanism of cognitive bias, resting-state functional MRI data were collected. Results showed that each of the cognitive biases has its own pattern of the functional connectivity between different regions involved in emotion processing and cognitive control whereas the left rostral prefrontal cortex was associated with both biases. The main clinical implication from this project is that interventions should target multiple cognitive biases.

Access Type

Open Access

Justification for Restricting Access

My current plan is to work on a separate manuscript with my thesis data and to submit it for publication during the summer of 2023. With this embargo in place, it will be easier for me to publish this data over the summer. This data will be available to the public with my publication. Therefore, I am requesting an embargo on this thesis for 5 years.

Available for download on Sunday, April 02, 2028