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      The (neuro)cognitive mechanisms behind attention bias modification in anxiety: proposals based on theoretical accounts of attentional bias

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          Recently, researchers have investigated the causal nature of attentional bias for threat (AB) in the maintenance of anxiety disorders by experimentally manipulating it. They found that training anxious individuals to attend to non-threat stimuli reduces AB, which, in turn, reduces anxiety. This effect supports the hypothesis that AB can causally impact the maintenance of anxiety. At a fundamental level, however, uncertainty still abounds regarding the nature of the processes that mediate this effect. In the present paper, we propose that two contrasting approaches may be derived from theoretical accounts of AB. According to a first class of models, called the “valence-specific bias” models, modifying AB requires the modification of valence-specific attentional selectivity. According to a second class of models, called the “attention control models,” modifying AB requires the modification of attention control, driven by the recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We formulate a series of specific predictions, to provide suggestions to trial these two approaches one against the other. This knowledge is critical for understanding the mechanisms of AB in anxiety disorders, which bares important clinical implications.

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          Transcranial direct current stimulation: State of the art 2008.

          Effects of weak electrical currents on brain and neuronal function were first described decades ago. Recently, DC polarization of the brain was reintroduced as a noninvasive technique to alter cortical activity in humans. Beyond this, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of different cortical areas has been shown, in various studies, to result in modifications of perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral functions. Moreover, preliminary data suggest that it can induce beneficial effects in brain disorders. Brain stimulation with weak direct currents is a promising tool in human neuroscience and neurobehavioral research. To facilitate and standardize future tDCS studies, we offer this overview of the state of the art for tDCS.
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            Attentional control theory is an approach to anxiety and cognition representing a major development of Eysenck and Calvo's (1992) processing efficiency theory. It is assumed that anxiety impairs efficient functioning of the goal-directed attentional system and increases the extent to which processing is influenced by the stimulus-driven attentional system. In addition to decreasing attentional control, anxiety increases attention to threat-related stimuli. Adverse effects of anxiety on processing efficiency depend on two central executive functions involving attentional control: inhibition and shifting. However, anxiety may not impair performance effectiveness (quality of performance) when it leads to the use of compensatory strategies (e.g., enhanced effort; increased use of processing resources). Directions for future research are discussed.
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              Threat-related attentional bias in anxious and nonanxious individuals: a meta-analytic study.

              This meta-analysis of 172 studies (N = 2,263 anxious,N = 1,768 nonanxious) examined the boundary conditions of threat-related attentional biases in anxiety. Overall, the results show that the bias is reliably demonstrated with different experimental paradigms and under a variety of experimental conditions, but that it is only an effect size of d = 0.45. Although processes requiring conscious perception of threat contribute to the bias, a significant bias is also observed with stimuli outside awareness. The bias is of comparable magnitude across different types of anxious populations (individuals with different clinical disorders, high-anxious nonclinical individuals, anxious children and adults) and is not observed in nonanxious individuals. Empirical and clinical implications as well as future directions for research are discussed. (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                04 April 2013
                : 7
                1Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
                2Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience Lab, Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University Ghent, Belgium
                Author notes

                Edited by: John J. Foxe, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA

                Reviewed by: Jan B. Engelmann, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Sarah E. Donohue, Duke University, USA

                *Correspondence: Alexandre Heeren, Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Psychological Sciences Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place du Cardinal Mercier 10, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. e-mail: alexandre.heeren@ ; heeren.alexandre@
                Copyright © 2013 Heeren, De Raedt, Koster and Philippot.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Figures: 2, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 54, Pages: 6, Words: 5132
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