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Differential attentional bias in generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder

Authors Chen J, Wang, Wu, Yiyun Cai, Shen, Wang, Shi S

Received 7 August 2012

Accepted for publication 2 October 2012

Published 8 January 2013 Volume 2013:9 Pages 73—80


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Jing Chen, Zhiyan Wang, Yan Wu, Yiyun Cai, Yifeng Shen, Liwei Wang, Shenxun Shi

Department of Psychiatry, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Background: Cognitive theorists relate anxiety disorders to the way in which emotional information is processed. The existing research suggests that patients with anxiety disorders tend to allocate their attention toward threat-related information selectively, and this may differ among different types of anxious subjects. The aim of this study was to explore attentional bias in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD) using the emotional Stroop task and compare the differences between them.
Methods: Forty-two patients with GAD, 34 patients with PD, and 46 healthy controls performed the emotional Stroop task with four word types, ie, GAD-related words, PD-related words, neutral words, and positive words.
Results: Patients with GAD and those with PD were slower than healthy controls to respond to all stimuli. Patients with GAD had longer response latencies in color-naming both PD-relevant words and GAD relevant words. Patients with PD had longer response latencies only in color-naming PD-related words, similar to healthy controls.
Conclusion: Patients with GAD and those with PD had a different pattern of attentional bias, and there was insufficient evidence to support the existence of specific attentional bias in patients with PD.

Keywords: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, attentional bias, emotional Stroop task

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