Learning and memory consolidation processes of attention-bias modification in anxious and nonanxious individuals

Rany Abend, Daniel S. Pine, Nathan A. Fox, Yair Bar-Haim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that attention-bias-modification (ABM) procedures may reduce anxiety via computerized attention-training tasks. However, the mechanisms underlying the modification of attention patterns in anxiety remain largely unexplored. Here, we compared anxious and nonanxious participants in terms of learning and memory consolidation effects associated with training to attend either toward or away from threat. When trained to attend away from threat, the primary training condition in ABM treatment, anxious participants demonstrated impaired within-session learning. In contrast, consolidation of threat-related learning did not vary as a function of anxiety. These findings suggest that anxious participants have a selective difficulty in altering their threat-related attention patterns during ABM. This specific deficit could explain inconsistent findings in the ABM research base, as well as elucidate potential targets for optimizing ABM protocols in the treatment of anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-627
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume2
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Attention-bias modification
  • Cognitive training
  • Consolidation
  • Learning
  • Memory

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