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Attentional control and the competition between nonpain goals and the threat of pain
Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands; Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. (CHAMP)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9462-0256
Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2018 (English)In: European Journal of Pain, ISSN 1090-3801, E-ISSN 1532-2149, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 181-190Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Fully understanding attention to pain requires taking into account the motivational context. Both pain- and (nonpain) goal-related information attracts attention. An intriguing question is which attentional bias prevails when pain- and goal-related information co-occurs? Reduced attentional bias towards pain- and goal-related information was predicted when the other competing information was presented simultaneously. Moreover, trait attentional control was predicted to be associated with stronger attentional bias towards goal-related information particularly in the presence of pain-related information.

METHODS: Attentional competition between pain- and (nonpain) goal-related information was measured in ninety participants using a dot-probe task presenting two stimuli (pain-related, goal-related or neutral) simultaneously. Reaction time was the dependent variable. Dot-probe trials alternated with goal trials to induce a temporary goal. Trait attentional control was measured with the attentional control scale.

RESULTS: For pain-related neutral stimulus pairs, participants responded fastest when probes appeared on the same, compared to the opposite, location as the pain-related stimulus. For pain-goal-related stimulus pairs, responses were fastest when probes appeared on the same, compared to the opposite, location as the goal-related stimulus. Higher trait attentional control was associated with faster responding when probes appeared on the same, compared to the opposite, location as the goal-related stimulus. Unpredicted, this effect was irrespective of the co-occurring stimulus (neutral vs. pain-related).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that the unintentional allocation of attention towards events related to a temporary (nonpain) goal prevails over attentional bias to events predicting pain. Trait attentional control predicts stronger attentional allocation towards events related to a temporary goal.

SIGNIFICANCE: These findings indicate that treatment interventions facilitating goal pursuit in patients with chronic pain are beneficial in reducing attentional biases towards pain-related events.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2018. Vol. 22, no 1, p. 181-190
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Neurology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-62458DOI: 10.1002/ejp.1114ISI: 000418080700018PubMedID: 28949062Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85038423369OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-62458DiVA, id: diva2:1162463
Note

Funding Agencies:

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research  453-04-003 

Örebro University, Sweden 

Available from: 2017-12-04 Created: 2017-12-04 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved

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Schrooten, Martien G. S.

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