Modification of threat-processing in non-anxious individuals: A preliminary behavioral and ERP study

J. G. Suway, L. K. White, R. E. Vanderwert, Y. Bar-Haim, D. S. Pine, N. A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Previous research suggests that attention bias toward threat contributes to the development and maintenance of anxiety. The current study extends this work by mapping the neural correlates of experimentally-induced changes in attention bias. The study examines both behavioral and psychophysiological changes associated with experimentally- induced changes in threat bias. Methods: Thirty-four non-anxious female adults were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: training attention toward threat or placebo control. Attention bias was assessed and trained via a modified dot-probe task. Participants completed pre- and post-training assessments of attention bias and stress reactivity. As well, EEG was collected during pre- and post-test assessment of attention bias using the dot-probe task. Results: Training induced significant changes in attention bias, though findings were complicated by group differences in baseline threat-bias scores. Compared to controls, those in the training group showed greater depression vulnerability to a post-training stressor and increased P2 amplitude, an ERP component associated with attention toward threat, during the dot-probe task. Limitations: Although participants were randomly assigned to groups, there were still group differences in pre-training bias scores. Also, while the use of a stress task before the initial assessment of attention bias was used to control for initial differences in stress vulnerability, this may have altered pre-bias scores since participants completed this task immediately after being stressed. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate training-induced changes in behavior and neural response patterns relevant to work on attention bias modification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-292
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Anxiety
  • Attention bias
  • Attention bias modification
  • ERP

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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