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Gaze cuing of attention in snake phobic women: the influence of facial expression.

Pletti C, Dalmaso M, Sarlo M, Galfano G - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings.We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression.These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of General Psychology, University of Padova , Padova, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Only a few studies investigated whether animal phobics exhibit attentional biases in contexts where no phobic stimuli are present. Among these, recent studies provided evidence for a bias toward facial expressions of fear and disgust in animal phobics. Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings. To test this hypothesis and further investigate attentional biases for emotional faces in animal phobics, we conducted an experiment using a gaze-cuing paradigm in which participants' attention was driven by the task-irrelevant gaze of a centrally presented face. We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression. These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Sequence of events in the experiment. Each trial started with a fixation cross, which was replaced after 1000 ms by a neutral face gazing straight ahead. After 1000 ms the eyes moved either rightward or leftward. After 50 ms the facial expression changed to an intermediate one, and after 50 ms to a disgusted, angry or fearful one. After either 100 or 400 ms, a target appeared and participants had to press a different key depending on whether the target letter was a T or an L. In the example, the face portrays a disgusted expression and the target is spatially incongruent to the gaze-cue. Note that the SOAs, that is the time intervals between eye movement and target appearance, are 200-ms and 500-ms. Stimuli are not drawn to scale. Color stimuli were used.
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Figure 1: Sequence of events in the experiment. Each trial started with a fixation cross, which was replaced after 1000 ms by a neutral face gazing straight ahead. After 1000 ms the eyes moved either rightward or leftward. After 50 ms the facial expression changed to an intermediate one, and after 50 ms to a disgusted, angry or fearful one. After either 100 or 400 ms, a target appeared and participants had to press a different key depending on whether the target letter was a T or an L. In the example, the face portrays a disgusted expression and the target is spatially incongruent to the gaze-cue. Note that the SOAs, that is the time intervals between eye movement and target appearance, are 200-ms and 500-ms. Stimuli are not drawn to scale. Color stimuli were used.

Mentions: Each trial began with the presentation of a fixation cross at the center of the screen, which lasted 1000 ms and was then replaced by a face bearing a neutral expression with direct gaze. After 1000 ms, the face was replaced by the same picture with eyes averted either leftward or rightward. After 50 ms, the facial expression of intermediate intensity was presented for 50 ms, and then replaced by the full-intensity facial expression. Thus, the facial expression would appear to participants to have changed promptly and dynamically after the eye movement. The target letter appeared leftward or rightward of the face after either 100 or 400 ms, resulting in two different SOAs (200 ms vs. 500 ms from gaze cue to target; see Figure 1). Participants performed a discrimination task by pressing one of two horizontally aligned keys (“D” and “K,” labeled with two differently colored labels). They were instructed to respond as quickly and accurately as possible while maintaining central fixation. Response mapping was counterbalanced across participants. Participants were asked to ignore the gaze direction because it did not predict the target location.


Gaze cuing of attention in snake phobic women: the influence of facial expression.

Pletti C, Dalmaso M, Sarlo M, Galfano G - Front Psychol (2015)

Sequence of events in the experiment. Each trial started with a fixation cross, which was replaced after 1000 ms by a neutral face gazing straight ahead. After 1000 ms the eyes moved either rightward or leftward. After 50 ms the facial expression changed to an intermediate one, and after 50 ms to a disgusted, angry or fearful one. After either 100 or 400 ms, a target appeared and participants had to press a different key depending on whether the target letter was a T or an L. In the example, the face portrays a disgusted expression and the target is spatially incongruent to the gaze-cue. Note that the SOAs, that is the time intervals between eye movement and target appearance, are 200-ms and 500-ms. Stimuli are not drawn to scale. Color stimuli were used.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4403304&req=5

Figure 1: Sequence of events in the experiment. Each trial started with a fixation cross, which was replaced after 1000 ms by a neutral face gazing straight ahead. After 1000 ms the eyes moved either rightward or leftward. After 50 ms the facial expression changed to an intermediate one, and after 50 ms to a disgusted, angry or fearful one. After either 100 or 400 ms, a target appeared and participants had to press a different key depending on whether the target letter was a T or an L. In the example, the face portrays a disgusted expression and the target is spatially incongruent to the gaze-cue. Note that the SOAs, that is the time intervals between eye movement and target appearance, are 200-ms and 500-ms. Stimuli are not drawn to scale. Color stimuli were used.
Mentions: Each trial began with the presentation of a fixation cross at the center of the screen, which lasted 1000 ms and was then replaced by a face bearing a neutral expression with direct gaze. After 1000 ms, the face was replaced by the same picture with eyes averted either leftward or rightward. After 50 ms, the facial expression of intermediate intensity was presented for 50 ms, and then replaced by the full-intensity facial expression. Thus, the facial expression would appear to participants to have changed promptly and dynamically after the eye movement. The target letter appeared leftward or rightward of the face after either 100 or 400 ms, resulting in two different SOAs (200 ms vs. 500 ms from gaze cue to target; see Figure 1). Participants performed a discrimination task by pressing one of two horizontally aligned keys (“D” and “K,” labeled with two differently colored labels). They were instructed to respond as quickly and accurately as possible while maintaining central fixation. Response mapping was counterbalanced across participants. Participants were asked to ignore the gaze direction because it did not predict the target location.

Bottom Line: Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings.We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression.These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of General Psychology, University of Padova , Padova, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Only a few studies investigated whether animal phobics exhibit attentional biases in contexts where no phobic stimuli are present. Among these, recent studies provided evidence for a bias toward facial expressions of fear and disgust in animal phobics. Such findings may be due to the fact that these expressions could signal the presence of a phobic object in the surroundings. To test this hypothesis and further investigate attentional biases for emotional faces in animal phobics, we conducted an experiment using a gaze-cuing paradigm in which participants' attention was driven by the task-irrelevant gaze of a centrally presented face. We employed dynamic negative facial expressions of disgust, fear and anger and found an enhanced gaze-cuing effect in snake phobics as compared to controls, irrespective of facial expression. These results provide evidence of a general hypervigilance in animal phobics in the absence of phobic stimuli, and indicate that research on specific phobias should not be limited to symptom provocation paradigms.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus