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Attention allocation to ambiguous health/somatic threat cues
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. Research Group Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Belgium. (CHAMP)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9462-0256
Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
Research Group Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Belgium; Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
2015 (English)In: European Journal of Pain, ISSN 1090-3801, E-ISSN 1532-2149, Vol. 19, no 7, 1002-1011 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: An influential idea is that attentional bias to information related to pain or pain-related negative affect underlies persistent pain problems. Such information is however often ambiguous. If ambiguous input is perceived as pain or threat related, attention to this stimulus would be enhanced compared with stimuli with no (dominant) pain-/threat-related meaning. Attentional bias to ambiguous stimuli related to somatic/health threat was expected to be more pronounced with higher levels of pain catastrophizing.

Methods: University students performed a spatial cueing task including four types of word cues that were combinations of word content (somatic/health threat vs. non-threat), and word ambiguity (unambiguous vs. ambiguous), each presented for 500 or 750 ms. Attentional bias to somatic/health threat is reflected in larger cue validity effects for somatic/heath threat words than for non-threat words.

Results: In the 500-ms condition, cue validity effects were larger for threat than for non-threat words in participants reporting low catastrophizing, but did not depend on word content in participants reporting higher catastrophizing. In the 750-ms condition, cue validity effects did not depend on pain catastrophizing or word content. Cue validity effects did not significantly differ between unambiguous words and ambiguous homographs.

Conclusions: Low catastrophizers demonstrated attentional bias to threat content. Participants reporting higher catastrophizing showed overall enhanced attentional orienting. There was no evidence for differences in (biased) attention to unambiguous and ambiguous words. Further research is needed to determine attentional bias for ambiguous pain-/threat-related stimuli in the context of consistent attentional bias for unambiguous pain-/threat-related stimuli.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 19, no 7, 1002-1011 p.
National Category
Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Neurology
Research subject
Anaesthesiology; Neurology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44223DOI: 10.1002/ejp.628ISI: 000357960900016PubMedID: 25421151OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-44223DiVA: diva2:802845
Note

Funding Agencies:

Odysseus Grant 'The Psychology of Pain and Disability Research Program' - Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO Vlaanderen, Belgium)

NWO Social Sciences Research Council of the Netherlands 453-04-003

Örebro University, Sweden

NWO Social Sciences Research Council of the Netherlands, VENI 451-09-026

Available from: 2015-04-13 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2015-08-12Bibliographically approved

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Schrooten, Martien G. S.
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