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Subliminal cues bias perception of facial affect in patients with social phobia: evidence for enhanced unconscious threat processing.

Jusyte A, Schönenberg M - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: This study investigated whether individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are perceptually more vulnerable to the biasing effects of subliminal threat cues compared to healthy controls.The results provide further support for enhanced unconscious threat processing in SAD individuals.The implications for etiology, maintenance, and treatment of SAD are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany ; LEAD Graduate School, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Socially anxious individuals have been shown to exhibit altered processing of facial affect, especially expressions signaling threat. Enhanced unaware processing has been suggested an important mechanism which may give rise to anxious conscious cognition and behavior. This study investigated whether individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are perceptually more vulnerable to the biasing effects of subliminal threat cues compared to healthy controls. In a perceptual judgment task, 23 SAD and 23 matched control participants were asked to rate the affective valence of parametrically manipulated affective expressions ranging from neutral to angry. Each trial was preceded by subliminal presentation of an angry/neutral cue. The SAD group tended to rate target faces as "angry" when the preceding subliminal stimulus was angry vs. neutral, while healthy participants were not biased by the subliminal stimulus presentation. The perceptual bias in SAD was also associated with higher reaction time latencies in the subliminal angry cue condition. The results provide further support for enhanced unconscious threat processing in SAD individuals. The implications for etiology, maintenance, and treatment of SAD are discussed.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

(A) Temporal trial structure for the perceptual decision task. (B) A stimulus set of one model identity parametrically varied in 10% increments ranging from neutral to angry.
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Figure 1: (A) Temporal trial structure for the perceptual decision task. (B) A stimulus set of one model identity parametrically varied in 10% increments ranging from neutral to angry.

Mentions: Angry and neutral facial expressions of seven male models from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces database (Goeleven et al., 2008) were selected for the stimulus material. We only included models who depict anger without opening the mouth or baring teeth in order to limit the confounding effects of visual features in the masking procedure (Calvo and Nummenmaa, 2008). This resulted in a total of 14 color pictures (7 models × 2 expressions), which were edited in order to match the basic visual features (luminance, color) and size (cropping with an oval mask) using Adobe Photoshop CS4. This was necessary in order to achieve maximum masking efficiency. The emotional expression was parametrically varied using a morphing procedure (FantaMorph software, Abrosoft, Beijing, China) in which angry and neutral expressions of the same model were blended together. This resulted in a set of 11 intensity levels (10% increment steps) of angry expressions ranging from 0% (neutral) to 100% (angry) for each model (Figure 1B). One model identity was randomly selected for the subliminal stimulus set (unambiguous neutral and angry expressions). The stimulus material for the perceptual judgment task consisted of graded expressions of the remaining models (6 remaining models × 11 intensity levels), which were used as mask stimuli and two subliminal stimuli (neutral and angry expression of a randomly selected model identity). Visual stimuli were delivered via Presentation software (Version 14.5) throughout all phases of the experiment. Face stimuli (300 × 375 pixel) were presented in the center of an 19′′ CRT monitor against a black background.


Subliminal cues bias perception of facial affect in patients with social phobia: evidence for enhanced unconscious threat processing.

Jusyte A, Schönenberg M - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

(A) Temporal trial structure for the perceptual decision task. (B) A stimulus set of one model identity parametrically varied in 10% increments ranging from neutral to angry.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4120699&req=5

Figure 1: (A) Temporal trial structure for the perceptual decision task. (B) A stimulus set of one model identity parametrically varied in 10% increments ranging from neutral to angry.
Mentions: Angry and neutral facial expressions of seven male models from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces database (Goeleven et al., 2008) were selected for the stimulus material. We only included models who depict anger without opening the mouth or baring teeth in order to limit the confounding effects of visual features in the masking procedure (Calvo and Nummenmaa, 2008). This resulted in a total of 14 color pictures (7 models × 2 expressions), which were edited in order to match the basic visual features (luminance, color) and size (cropping with an oval mask) using Adobe Photoshop CS4. This was necessary in order to achieve maximum masking efficiency. The emotional expression was parametrically varied using a morphing procedure (FantaMorph software, Abrosoft, Beijing, China) in which angry and neutral expressions of the same model were blended together. This resulted in a set of 11 intensity levels (10% increment steps) of angry expressions ranging from 0% (neutral) to 100% (angry) for each model (Figure 1B). One model identity was randomly selected for the subliminal stimulus set (unambiguous neutral and angry expressions). The stimulus material for the perceptual judgment task consisted of graded expressions of the remaining models (6 remaining models × 11 intensity levels), which were used as mask stimuli and two subliminal stimuli (neutral and angry expression of a randomly selected model identity). Visual stimuli were delivered via Presentation software (Version 14.5) throughout all phases of the experiment. Face stimuli (300 × 375 pixel) were presented in the center of an 19′′ CRT monitor against a black background.

Bottom Line: This study investigated whether individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are perceptually more vulnerable to the biasing effects of subliminal threat cues compared to healthy controls.The results provide further support for enhanced unconscious threat processing in SAD individuals.The implications for etiology, maintenance, and treatment of SAD are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany ; LEAD Graduate School, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Socially anxious individuals have been shown to exhibit altered processing of facial affect, especially expressions signaling threat. Enhanced unaware processing has been suggested an important mechanism which may give rise to anxious conscious cognition and behavior. This study investigated whether individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are perceptually more vulnerable to the biasing effects of subliminal threat cues compared to healthy controls. In a perceptual judgment task, 23 SAD and 23 matched control participants were asked to rate the affective valence of parametrically manipulated affective expressions ranging from neutral to angry. Each trial was preceded by subliminal presentation of an angry/neutral cue. The SAD group tended to rate target faces as "angry" when the preceding subliminal stimulus was angry vs. neutral, while healthy participants were not biased by the subliminal stimulus presentation. The perceptual bias in SAD was also associated with higher reaction time latencies in the subliminal angry cue condition. The results provide further support for enhanced unconscious threat processing in SAD individuals. The implications for etiology, maintenance, and treatment of SAD are discussed.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus