Attentional Bias in specific symmetry and cleaning dimensions of obsessive-compulsive disorder

Maria Alice De Mathis*, Marcelo Camargo Batistuzzo, Yair Bar-Haim, Rany Abend, Euripedes C. Miguel, Ivanil Morais, Guaraci Requena, Giovanni Abrahão Salum, Roseli G. Shavitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attentional bias (AB) refers to increased allocation of attention on threat stimuli when compared to neutral stimuli. It is not clear if AB occurs in subjects with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We tested AB for symmetry and cleaning symptoms of OCD. Sixty-two patients with OCD and 40 healthy controls matched by gender, age and IQ, completed a computerized dot-probe task where two pictures (with symmetry or cleaning related content) were shown. The probe appeared in the location previously occupied by one of the pictures. Within-subjects linear mixed-effect models were used to investigate the effects of the factors: group (patients vs controls), OCD dimension (cleaning vs symmetry), task condition (neutral, congruent and incongruent), and the interaction among them. We also correlated AB scores with the clinical and demographic variables. No positive interaction resulted among the factors, but positive results were observed in group and condition, separately. Patients were significantly slower than controls (p-value = 0.014) (an effect that was accounted for by depression and anxiety symptoms and comorbidity) and the neutral condition was significantly faster when compared the other two conditions (congruent and incongruent, p-value = 0.013). No association was found between AB scores and clinical symptoms. There was no AB toward specific, content-related, stimuli in this sample of OCD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102238
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Attentional bias
  • Cleaning dimension
  • Dot-probe task
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Symmetry dimension


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