Limited transfer of threat bias following attentional retraining

Bram Van Bockstaele, Ernst H.W. Koster, Bruno Verschuere, Geert Crombez, Jan De Houwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objectives: Anxiety-related attentional bias for threat is considered an important risk factor for the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. In line with this idea, recent studies have illustrated that experimentally induced changes in attentional bias have an impact on both non-clinical and clinical levels of anxiety. Still, little is known about the potential transfer of computerized training of attention to different components of attentional processing of threat. Methods: In the present study, we trained participants to either avoid or attend towards threatening pictures in a dot probe task, and we examined whether this attentional training transferred to a measure of emotional interference. Results: Despite our successful manipulation of attentional bias in the dot probe task, we found no generalization of the attentional training to the interference task. Limitations: It is possible that our study lacked statistical power to reveal possible group differences in the interference task. Conclusions: Our study shows that attentional training using the dot probe task may influence the amount of attention that is given to the spatial location of threat, but not necessarily the amount of attention that is given to the semantic content of stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-800
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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