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Brief Training to Modify the Breadth of Attention Influences the Generalisation of Fear

Varma, Mohith M. and Pitliya, Riddhi J. and Zbozinek, Tomislav D. and Shechner, Tomer and Barry, Tom J. (2021) Brief Training to Modify the Breadth of Attention Influences the Generalisation of Fear. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 45 (1). pp. 99-110. ISSN 0147-5916. doi:10.1007/s10608-020-10160-x.

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Background: Generalisation of fear from dangerous to safe stimuli is an important process associated with anxiety disorders. However, factors that contribute towards fear (over)-generalisation remain poorly understood. The present investigation explored how attentional breadth (global/holistic and local/analytic) influences fear generalisation and, whether people trained to attend in a global vs. local manner show more or less generalisation. Methods: Participants (N = 39) were shown stimuli which comprised of large ‘global’ letters and smaller ‘local’ letters (e.g. an F comprised of As) and they either had to identify the global or local letter. Participants were then conditioned to fear a face by pairing it with an aversive scream (75% reinforcement schedule). Perceptually similar, but safe, faces, were then shown. Self-reported fear levels and skin conductance responses were measured. Results: Compared to participants in Global group, participants in Local group demonstrated greater fear for dangerous stimulus (CS +) as well as perceptually similar safe stimuli. Conclusions: Participants trained to attend to stimuli in a local/analytical manner showed higher magnitude of fear acquisition and generalisation than participants trained to attend in a global/holistic way. Breadth of attentional focus can influence overall fear levels and fear generalisation and this can be manipulated via attentional training.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Varma, Mohith M.0000-0002-4399-4485
Pitliya, Riddhi J.0000-0002-4682-9573
Zbozinek, Tomislav D.0000-0003-0187-671X
Shechner, Tomer0000-0001-9151-2738
Barry, Tom J.0000-0003-1042-3827
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit Accepted 16 September 2020; Published 01 October 2020. This research was supported by a seed grant from the first author’s institution (Project code: 201703159003). Mohith M. Varma, and Riddhi J. Pitliya are co-first authors and contributed equally to this work. Research Involving Human and Animal Participants: All procedures performed in the study involved human participants and were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. No animal studies were conducted in this study. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
University of Hong Kong201703159003
King's College LondonUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201019-070631943
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Official Citation:Varma, M.M., Pitliya, R.J., Zbozinek, T.D. et al. Brief Training to Modify the Breadth of Attention Influences the Generalisation of Fear. Cogn Ther Res 45, 99–110 (2021).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106129
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:20 Oct 2020 15:53
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:50

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