Faculté des sciences

Spatiotemporal brain dynamics underlying attentional bias modifications

Sallard, Etienne ; Hartmann, Lea ; Ptak, Radek ; Spierer, Lucas

In: International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2018, vol. 130, p. 29–39

Exaggerated attentional biases toward specific elements of the environment contribute to the maintenance of several psychiatric conditions, such as biases to threatening faces in social anxiety. Although recent literature indicates that attentional bias modification may constitute an effective approach for psychiatric remediation, the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms remain unclear.... More

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    Summary
    Exaggerated attentional biases toward specific elements of the environment contribute to the maintenance of several psychiatric conditions, such as biases to threatening faces in social anxiety. Although recent literature indicates that attentional bias modification may constitute an effective approach for psychiatric remediation, the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms remain unclear. We addressed this question by recording EEG in 24 healthy participants performing a modified dot-probe task in which pairs of neutral cues (colored shapes) were replaced by probe stimuli requiring a discrimination judgment. To induce an attentional bias toward or away from the cues, the probes were systematically presented either at the same or at the opposite position of a specific cue color. This paradigm enabled participants to spontaneously develop biases to initially unbiased, neutral cues, as measured by the response speed to the probe presented after the cues. Behavioral result indicated that the ABM procedure induced approach and avoidance biases. The influence of ABM on inhibitory control was assessed in a separated Go/NoGo task: changes in AB did not influence participants' capacity to inhibit their responses to the cues. Attentional bias modification was associated with a topographic modulation of event-related potentials already 50–84 ms following the onset of the cues. Statistical analyses of distributed electrical source estimations revealed that the development of attentional biases was associated with decreased activity in the left temporo-parieto-occipital junction. These findings suggest that attentional bias modification affects early sensory processing phases related to the extraction of information based on stimulus saliency.