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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

Behavioral results for the perceptual judgment task. The percentage of “angry” responses is plotted against stimulus intensity ranging from neutral (0) to angry (100). The dark circles and solid lines represent an angry subliminal stimulus, the white circles and dashed lines represent a neutral subliminal stimulus. gSAD, generalized social anxiety disorder; SEM standard error of mean.
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Figure 2: Behavioral results for the perceptual judgment task. The percentage of “angry” responses is plotted against stimulus intensity ranging from neutral (0) to angry (100). The dark circles and solid lines represent an angry subliminal stimulus, the white circles and dashed lines represent a neutral subliminal stimulus. gSAD, generalized social anxiety disorder; SEM standard error of mean.

Mentions: In order to investigate the perceptual bias, an initial repeated-measures ANOVA with two within-subjects factors (subliminal stimulus type and intensity) as well as one between-subjects factor (group) was conducted using mean proportion of “angry” responses for condition and intensity level. The results indicated a main effect of stimulus intensity [F(10, 440) = 572.32; p < 0.001; = 0.93], which was further qualified by a significant condition × group [F(1, 44) = 572.32; p < 0.05; = 0.10] and a group × intensity interaction on a statistical trend level [F(10, 440) = 1.80; p < 0.10; = 0.04]. To further investigate the interaction effects, separate 2 (subliminal stimulus type) × 11 (intensity levels) repeated-measures ANOVA were computed (Figure 2) for each group. For the control group, there was a significant effect of stimulus intensity [F(10, 220) = 292.08; p< 0.001; = 0.93], but neither subliminal stimulus type [F(1, 22) = 0.23; p > 0.1; = 0.01] nor interaction [F(10, 220) = 0.44; p > 0.1; = 0.02] reached significance. The SAD group, however, showed a significant effect of both intensity [F(10, 220) = 282.67, p < 0.001, = 0.93] and subliminal stimulus type [F(1, 22) = 7.05; p < 0.05; = 0.24], as well as an interaction effect [F(10, 220) = 1.93; p < 0.05; = 0.08]. Paired-sample t-tests (subliminal angry vs. neutral stimulus) were computed in order to further qualify the interaction effect, yielding significant differences at the first five intensity levels (all ps < 0.05). Thus, the results indicate that only SAD group subjects tended to make more “angry” responses when the subliminal stimulus was angry.


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)

Behavioral results for the perceptual judgment task. The percentage of “angry” responses is plotted against stimulus intensity ranging from neutral (0) to angry (100). The dark circles and solid lines represent an angry subliminal stimulus, the white circles and dashed lines represent a neutral subliminal stimulus. gSAD, generalized social anxiety disorder; SEM standard error of mean.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 2: Behavioral results for the perceptual judgment task. The percentage of “angry” responses is plotted against stimulus intensity ranging from neutral (0) to angry (100). The dark circles and solid lines represent an angry subliminal stimulus, the white circles and dashed lines represent a neutral subliminal stimulus. gSAD, generalized social anxiety disorder; SEM standard error of mean.
Mentions: In order to investigate the perceptual bias, an initial repeated-measures ANOVA with two within-subjects factors (subliminal stimulus type and intensity) as well as one between-subjects factor (group) was conducted using mean proportion of “angry” responses for condition and intensity level. The results indicated a main effect of stimulus intensity [F(10, 440) = 572.32; p < 0.001; = 0.93], which was further qualified by a significant condition × group [F(1, 44) = 572.32; p < 0.05; = 0.10] and a group × intensity interaction on a statistical trend level [F(10, 440) = 1.80; p < 0.10; = 0.04]. To further investigate the interaction effects, separate 2 (subliminal stimulus type) × 11 (intensity levels) repeated-measures ANOVA were computed (Figure 2) for each group. For the control group, there was a significant effect of stimulus intensity [F(10, 220) = 292.08; p< 0.001; = 0.93], but neither subliminal stimulus type [F(1, 22) = 0.23; p > 0.1; = 0.01] nor interaction [F(10, 220) = 0.44; p > 0.1; = 0.02] reached significance. The SAD group, however, showed a significant effect of both intensity [F(10, 220) = 282.67, p < 0.001, = 0.93] and subliminal stimulus type [F(1, 22) = 7.05; p < 0.05; = 0.24], as well as an interaction effect [F(10, 220) = 1.93; p < 0.05; = 0.08]. Paired-sample t-tests (subliminal angry vs. neutral stimulus) were computed in order to further qualify the interaction effect, yielding significant differences at the first five intensity levels (all ps < 0.05). Thus, the results indicate that only SAD group subjects tended to make more “angry” responses when the subliminal stimulus was angry.

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