Attention bias to negative versus non-negative faces is related to negative affectivity in a transdiagnostic youth sample

Anita Harrewijn, Rany Abend, Reut Naim, Simone P. Haller, Caitlin M. Stavish, Mira A. Bajaj, Chika Matsumoto, Kelly Dombek, Elise M. Cardinale, Katharina Kircanski, Melissa A. Brotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study identified a shared pathophysiological mechanism of pediatric anxiety and irritability. Clinically, anxiety and irritability are common, co-occurring problems, both characterized by high-arousal negative affective states. Behaviorally, anxiety and irritability are associated with aberrant threat processing. To build on these findings, we examined eye-tracking measures of attention bias in relation to the unique and shared features of anxiety and irritability in a transdiagnostic sample of youth (n = 97, 58% female, Mage = 13.03, SDage = 2.82). We measured attention bias to negative versus non-negative emotional faces during a passive viewing task. We employed bifactor analysis to parse the unique and shared variance of anxiety and irritability symptoms from self- and parent-report questionnaires. Negative affectivity is the derived latent factor reflecting shared variance of anxiety and irritability. We found that higher negative affectivity was associated with looking longer at negative versus non-negative faces, reflecting a shared mechanism of anxiety and irritability. This finding suggests that modification of elevated attention to negative emotional faces may represent a common potential treatment target of anxiety and irritability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-518
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume138
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Attention bias
  • Eye-tracking
  • Irritability
  • Negative affectivity

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